June 17, 2021

FDA Releases Report on Deli Food Poisoning Risk Factors

The FDA has released a new report on deli food poisoning risk factors. This study is part of a 10-year initiative that looks at risk factors in retail settings, which include employee practices, personal hygiene, and food safety practices such as improper handwashing.

FDA Releases Report on Deli Food Poisoning Risk Factors

Some deli foods, such as soft cheeses and sliced meats,  are considered high risk for possible Listeria monocytogenes contamination, due to the difficulty of cleaning some equipment and the intrinsic makeup of these foods. The study highlights the importance of having a well-developed Food Safety Management Systems (FSMS) and employing Certified Food Protection Managers, since delis with these procedures and employees are more likely to properly control foodborne illness risk factors. A well-developed FSMS was the strongest predictor of compliance.

The risk factors related to food safety practices include poor personal hygiene, improperly food holding/time and temperature, contaminated equipment, inadequate cooking, and food obtained from unsafe sources.

The two most commonly occurring risk factors in the study were improper holding, and poor personal hygiene. There was high out-of-compliance percentage for handwashing, with 72.1% of delis out-of-compliance. In 61.7% of delis there was at least one observation that an employee did not clean and wash their hands at the required time.

The second most commonly occurring risk factor was not holding foods that require refrigeration at the proper temperature, with 70.0% of delis out-of-compliance. And the third most common out-of-compliance risk factor was not protecting food from cross-contamination during storage, preparation, and display.

The study found that delis had the best control over ensuring no bare-hand contact with ready-to-eat food and making sure that raw meats were cooked to required temperatures. It also found that delis with a CFPM had significantly better FSMS scores than delis without one.

Food safety practices in retail food establishments are crucial to prevent foodborne illness outbreaks. These studies help delicious makers take steps to reduce the risk of possible outbreaks, and help the FDA prioritize development of educational resources to inform and empower industry.

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