More than half of food industry workers go to work sick, according to the annual Mind of the Food Worker study conducted by the Center for Research and Public Policy and commissioned by Alchemy Systems.

A few highlights from the poll:

  • 51 percent of workers say they “always or frequently” go to work when sick.
  • More than 45 percent say they go to work because they can’t afford not to.
  • More than 46 percent said they don’t want to let their fellow coworkers down by not showing up for their scheduled shift.
  • Oddly, when managers were asked how many of their employees show up to work sick, most replied with a mere 18 percent.
  • Another odd finding is that despite their habit of going to work sick, 87 percent of frontline workers said they would still serve the food they make to their families and children.

“The vast majority of frontline food workers and their employers are committed to providing safe foods for their customers,” says Alchemy CEO Jeff Eastman. “The survey shows that over 90 percent of food workers feel responsible for the safety and well-being of their customers. So managers and supervisors need to better communicate why it’s okay to stay home when sick.”

The Mind of the Food Worker study’s purpose is to “increase the food industry’s understanding of frontline worker attitudes and behaviors.” In order to garner feedback from across the entire food supply chain, more than 1,200 food workers at farms, dairies, slaughter houses, meat facilities processing plants, cafeterias, commercial bakeries, restaurants and grocery stores were polled. The data was collected between July 3 through 16, 2015.