Atlanta, GA (PRWEB) June 04, 2014
Most norovirus outbreaks from contaminated food occur in food service settings, according to a Vital Signs report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Infected food workers are frequently the source of these outbreaks, often by touching ready-to-eat foods served in restaurants with their bare hands. The food service industry can help prevent norovirus outbreaks by enforcing food safety practices, such as making sure workers always practice good hand hygiene on the job and stay home when they are sick.
Norovirus often gets a lot of attention for outbreaks on cruise ships, but those account for only about 1 percent of all reported norovirus outbreaks. Norovirus is highly contagious and can spread anywhere people gather or food is served, making people sick with vomiting and diarrhea. About 20 million people get sick from norovirus each year; most get infected by having close contact with other infected people or by eating contaminated food.
“Norovirus outbreaks from contaminated food in restaurants are far too common,” said CDC Director Tom Frieden, M.D., M.P.H. “All who prepare food, especially the food service industry, can do more to create a work environment that promotes food safety and ensures that workers adhere to food safety laws and regulations that are already in place.”
The Vital Signs report provides key recommendations to help the food service industry prevent norovirus outbreaks from contaminated food. The recommendations, which underscore provisions in the Food and Drug Administration model Food Code and CDC guidelines include:
•Making sure food service workers practice proper hand washing and use utensils and single- use disposable gloves to avoid touching ready-to-eat foods with bare hands,
•Certifying kitchen managers and training food service workers in food safety practices, and
•Establishing policies that require food service workers to stay home when sick with vomiting and diarrhea and for at least 48 hours after symptoms stop.