In this newsletter, we'll be cover topics such as Food & Agribusiness Industry Update, Heat Illness Prevention, and Client Beware: New Records Being Set for Criminal Fines for Food Safety Violations.

Much of the food, agribusiness and grocery segments share the same rate, capacity and coverage challenges as the broader market, but there are essential distinctions to keep in mind. The best available results in the current marketplace, which were firming prior to the COVID-19 outbreak, have gotten more challenging. In order to drive better results, it’s important that you start the process early to secure underwriting commitments, utilize benchmarking data and leverage strong carrier relationships. Not every outcome will be the same, but relying on Gallagher’s expertise is resulting in measurably beneficial options for our clients. Additionally, underwriters are now asking pointed COVID-19 risk mitigation questions, and you should be prepared to provide them with answers. Specifically, you should be prepared to answer questions about protecting workers in close quarters when they are underwriting workers’ compensation insurance.

1. The grocery space has done well in the first phase of the pandemic.

  • During shelter-in-place orders when restaurants were closed, Americans spent more time and money in grocery stores.
  • In the early weeks of the pandemic, grocers were seeing year-over-year sales increases up to 150%. Since then, the increase has slowed down, but it is still slightly higher than normal.
  • The challenges grocers faced were not only insurance costs, but also protecting the health and safety of employees and customers, and keeping their shelves stocked.
  • Gallagher continues to provide valuable risk control assistance to clients so that they can operate safely during this time. All of these valuable resources are still available, including webinars, one-on-one risk control calls to give guidance for specific employee infectious disease protocols and written loss control guides. 

2. Disruptions have varied for traditional agribusiness.

  • In the traditional agribusiness space, some businesses have had little disruption, while others have had significant disruption to their business activities.
  • Businesses in the protein space have faced the challenge of depressed prices, and the shoulder-to-shoulder nature of much of the work has made social distancing challenging.
  • Some areas of traditional agriculture, such as agronomy services, have had minimal disruption. 

3. Manufacturers that supply restaurants and other food service customers have been hit hard.

  • In the food space, the pivot to supplying retail is more difficult than simply redirecting a truck.
  • Food plants doing well are those without supply chain issues that have experienced steady customer demand and can safely staff their shifts despite additional expenses, such as increased cleaning, hazard/bonus pay and providing more personal protective equipment.

The duration of the pandemic, the full magnitude of its economic impact and the subsequent impact on the insurance industry remain unknown. However, the underlying fundamentals we see with the environment today are likely to continue for some time. Currently, nothing indicates this momentum will slow anytime soon. If anything, it’s picked up in recent months and is now spreading more broadly.

Due to the highly nuanced nature of this market, it is imperative that you are engaging with an insurance broker who specializes in your particular industry and/or line of coverage. Gallagher has a vast network of specialists that understand your industry and business, and can provide you with the best solutions in the marketplace for your unique challenges.

For more information or to access our full market update, contact Glenn Drees at (513) 977-3171 or a member of your Gallagher team.

Heat Illness Prevention

Gallagher National Risk Control
2850 Golf Road
Rolling Meadows, IL 60008
(833) 213-8557

Farm and agricultural workers are at an increased risk for heat-related illnesses and fatalities due to the physically demanding labor that is mostly done outdoors. During the summer months, the risk increases due to high temperatures and humidity.

What is heat illness?

Heat illness is a serious medical condition caused by environmental exposure to heat. The body’s inability to regulate temperature causes the body’s temperature to rise too high. The buildup of heat in the body may lead to headaches, dizziness, cramps, heat exhaustion and heatstroke.

Heat-related illnesses:

Heat exhaustion and heatstroke are the most dangerous types of heat-related illnesses. If heat exhaustion is not treated, it may lead to heatstroke. Heat exhaustion is caused by the loss of water or salt from the body due to sweating, or not drinking enough fluids. Heatstroke is caused by the body’s inability to cool down and eliminate heat — sweating stops. These illnesses are very serious and can sometimes result in death. Heatstroke is the most severe heat-related illness. Seek medical help immediately and call 911.

Symptoms of Heat Exhaustion Actions
  • Confusion
  • Headache
  • Excessive sweating
  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Clammy skin
  • Nausea, vomiting or diarrhea
  • Muscle or abdominal cramps
  • Rest worker in cool or shaded area
  • Loosen or remove clothing
  • Cool with cold compresses to the head, neck and face
  • Wash head, face and neck with cold water
  • Encourage frequent sips of cool water and plenty of fluids
  • Take to a clinic or emergency room for medical evaluation and treatment
  • If symptoms worsen, call 911
Symptoms of Heatstroke Actions
  • May lose consciousness
  • Throbbing headache
  • Lack of sweating despite the heat
  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Rapid, shallow breathing
  • Nausea, vomiting or diarrhea
  • Body temperature above 104°F
  • Red, hot, dry skin

Seek medical help immediately— call 911

Until medical help arrives:

  • Move worker to a shady and cool area
  • Remove as much clothing as possible
  • Cool the worker by placing cold wet cloths, wet towels or ice all over the body, or soak clothing with cold water
  • Circulate the air

Preventing heat illness:

  • Monitor weather conditions as frequently as needed since weather conditions may change quickly at times. Instruct supervisors to track the weather of the job site by monitoring predicted temperature highs and periodically using a thermometer. Determine how weather information will be used to modify work schedules, and instruct supervisors on it. Increase number of water and rest breaks or cease work early, if necessary.
  • Schedule frequent rest periods with water breaks in shaded or air-conditioned recovery areas.
  • Ensure that workers pace themselves. Reduce the physical demands of the job. If heavy job tasks cannot be avoided, change work/rest cycles to increase the amount of rest time.
  • Provide workers with plenty of cool water in convenient, visible locations close to the work area. Water temperature should be 50– 60°F, if possible.
  • Remind workers to frequently drink small amounts of water before they become thirsty to maintain good hydration. Make sure workers are aware that it is harmful to drink extreme amounts of water.
  • Electrolyte drinks are a good supplement to drinking water.
  • Workers should eat regular meals and snacks, as they provide enough salt and electrolytes to replace those lost through sweating.
  • Ensure that workers wear appropriate clothing and sunscreen.
  • Remind workers that urine should be clear or lightly colored.
  • Set up a buddy system to make sure workers are making use of water and shade, and not experiencing heat-related symptoms. 

Recommendations for outdoor work environments:

  • Monitor weather reports daily, and reschedule jobs with high heat exposure to cooler times of the day if possible.
  • Plan to do outdoor projects during cooler seasons if possible.

Recommendations for indoor work environments: 

  • Cool indoor workplace by using air conditioning or increased ventilation, if cooler air is available from the outside.
  • Use fans to increase air speed, which will improve heat exchange between the skin surface and the air, unless the air temperature is higher than the skin temperature.
  • Other methods to reduce indoor temperature include providing reflective shields to redirect radiant heat, insulating hot surfaces and decreasing water vapor pressure (e.g., by sealing steam leaks and keeping floors dry).
  • Reflective clothing, such as safety vests, worn as loosely as possible, can minimize heat illness.
  • Water-dampened cotton whole-body suits are an inexpensive and effective personal cooling technique.
  • Cooling vests with pockets that hold cold packs are comfortable and effective. More complex and expensive water-cooled suits are also available; however, these may require a battery-driven circulating pump and liquid coolant.

Training on heat illness:

  • Train workers and supervisors on the hazards leading to heat illness and ways to prevent them, at least annually and before each season, and again when heat waves occur.
  • Train and encourage workers to immediately report symptoms in themselves and others.
  • Ensure that new employees are trained and watched thoroughly. If you have someone who is new to the job or who has been away for more than a week, gradually increase the workload or allow more frequent breaks the first week. Be extra vigilant during heat waves.

For more information, contact the Gallagher National Risk team at (833) 213-8557.

Client Beware: New Records Being Set for Criminal Fines for Food Safety Violations

Regulators have started to use a new tool in their efforts to regulate food safety throughout the food industry. In addition to the use of (or the threatened use of) criminal prosecution of executives and QA managers, and the resulting jail sentences pursuant to the Park Doctrine, regulators have recently begun seeking multimillion-dollar criminal fines from food safety violators. These efforts have been successful and, in many cases, record-breaking.

In early 2017, a criminal fine of more than $11 million dollars was imposed for a food safety violation when an American packaged food company reached a plea deal resolving a decade-long criminal investigation into a salmonella contamination of some of its products that sickened approximately 700 people. The deal, which included entering a guilty plea by the company to a misdemeanor of shipping adulterated food, involved the largest criminal fine imposed for a food safety violation in history to that point.

This record did not stand for long. During the COVID-19 pandemic, the Food & Drug Administration (FDA) and Department of Justice (DOJ) were hard at work expanding this strategy.

In early May 2020, a large ice cream manufacturer agreed to a pay a criminal fine of $19.5 million, which included a settlement of false claims act violations in connection with an ice cream contamination linked to a 2015 listeria outbreak killing at least three people.

A few weeks later, the DOJ entered into a deferred prosecution agreement with a fast food chain in exchange for payment of a $25 million penalty (another new record) in connection with several different foodborne illness outbreaks (including norovirus) across the country at a number of its restaurants that sickened over 1,000 customers. As part of the deal, the fast food chain agreed to implement new and improved food safety protocols.

These examples demonstrate that regulators are vigilant in their efforts to ensure food safety and compliance with the regulations, and should serve as important reminders to those in the food industry to prioritize food safety efforts.

Understandably, these are the sorts of records you don’t want to hold. We encourage our clients to recognize that these sort of risks — criminal fines associated with food safety violations — need to be taken into account in preparing for food safety crises and should be part of a food company’s overall risk mitigation strategy as it relates to food safety/product contamination/product recall exposure.

For more information on product recall/contamination coverage or to review your exposures, reach out to Steve Kluting at (616) 224-1301 or a member of your Gallagher team.

Featured On-Demand Webinar

Heat Illness Prevention

Replay Webinar

Summer months and progressing weather patterns means that it will soon get hotter and more humid, which presents an increased risk for workers that are exposed to harsh and unforgiving environments.

Heat-related illnesses and injuries are a significant risk in the food and agribusiness industry during the summer. Join Chase Chavers and Cadrien Livingston from our National Risk Control team to learn more about:

  • How heat transfer works in the human body
  • How humidity, hydration and habits affect the way the body reacts to heat
  • Best practices for preventing heat stress


OHSA-NIOSH Safety Tool
Heat Illness Prevention Training Guide


Gallagher provides insurance, risk management and consultation services for our clients in response to both known and unknown risk exposures. When providing analysis and recommendations regarding potential insurance coverage, potential claims and/ or operational strategy in response to national emergencies (including health crises), we do so from an insurance/risk management perspective, and offer broad information about risk mitigation, loss control strategy and potential claim exposures. We have prepared this commentary and other news alerts for general informational purposes only and the material is not intended to be, nor should it be interpreted as, legal or client-specific risk management advice. General insurance descriptions contained herein do not include complete insurance policy definitions, terms and/or conditions, and should not be relied on for coverage interpretation.

Gallagher publications may contain links to non-Gallagher websites that are created and controlled by other organizations. We claim no responsibility for the content of any linked website, or any link contained therein. The inclusion of any link does not imply endorsement by Gallagher, as we have no responsibility for information referenced in material owned and controlled by other parties. Gallagher strongly encourages you to review any separate terms of use and privacy policies governing use of these third party websites and resources.

Insurance brokerage and related services to be provided by Arthur J. Gallagher Risk Management Services, Inc. (License No. 0D69293) and/or its affiliate Arthur J. Gallagher & Co. Insurance Brokers of California, Inc. (License No. 0726293).