Precautions Taken by Food Service Industry Can Help Prevent Norovirus Outbreaks

First Posted: Jun 04, 2014 03:35 AM EDT

Most norovirus outbreaks from contaminated food occur in  service settings and workers are the major source of these outbreaks, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Norovirus is the one of the leading causes of disease outbreaks from contaminated food in the United States and is preventable if the food service industry takes the right precautions, a latest report from CDC reveals. 

Infected workers are a frequent source of norovirus outbreaks,  dirty hands being the main culprits. The federal regulators suggest that following certain food safety practices can prevent such outbreaks.

Some of the food safety measures include ensuring workers always maintain good hand hygiene on the job and refrain from reporting to work job when they are sick. Single use disposable gloves are recommended to avoid touching ready to eat food with bare hands. Certifying the kitchen managers and training food service workers in food safety practices..

 "It is vital that food service workers stay home if they are sick; otherwise, they risk contaminating food that many people will eat," said Aron Hall, D.V.M., M.S.P.H., of CDC's Division of Viral Diseases. "Businesses can consider using measures that would encourage sick workers to stay home, such as paid sick leave and a staffing plan that includes on-call workers."

Norovirus outbreaks on cruise ships have grabbed media attention recently but these outbreaks account for just 1 percent of the reported norovirus outbreaks. 

Norovirus affects about 20 million people every year and is known to be highly contagious and spreads easily where people gather or where food is being served.

"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."

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