A report in the Journal of Food Protection’s November 2012 issue has found that more violations of food safety laws and regulations were found in restaurants that were linked to food poisoning outbreaks. While that may seem obvious, this was a meta-analysis that proved the point.
The Division of Environmental Health Sciences at the University of Minnesota conducted the research. Since most foodborne illness outbreaks occur in restaurant settings, this research will help public health officials focus on interventions that have the most impact on reducing food poisoning outbreaks. The report states that “significantly more violations were recorded at restaurants that had outbreaks.”
Three pathogens that cause the majority of foodborne illness outbreaks in the United States are norovirus, Clostridium perfringens, and Salmonella. The data revealed eleven violations that were significantly more likely to be identified at restaurants that caused outbreaks than at restaurants that were not linked to outbreaks. Health department inspection reports should apply this information in a consistent fashion to help prevent more outbreaks.
This information backs up a CDC report that found restaurants that are complex establishments, using a complex food handling process, are involved in the majority of outbreaks. They also found that written policies were lacking in many of these establishments.