June 25, 2024

Sick Restaurant Employees Cause 40% of Outbreaks

Sick restaurant employees cause 40% of foodborne illness outbreaks, according to an article in the Center for Disease Control and Prevention's (CDC) Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report for the week of June 2, 2023. Hundreds of foodborne illness outbreaks associated with retail food establishments are reported every year to the CDC. The period of time included in this study was 2017 to 2019. In 2014, CDC launched the National Environmental Assessment Reporting System (NEARS) to compliment the surveillance conducted by the National Outbreak Reporting System (NORS). State and local health departments enter data from their outbreak investigations of retail food establishments. The data entered include characteristics of outbreaks, including factors contributing to the illnesses, … [Read more...]

Onions Are Linked to the Salmonella Oranienburg Outbreak, 652 Sickened

The CDC says that onions are linked to the Salmonella Oranienburg outbreak that has now sickened at least 652 people in 37 states, an increase of 60 more patients since the last update six days ago. Epidemiologic and traceback evidence has found that whole red, white, and yellow onions distributed by ProSource Inc. that were imported from Chihuahua, Mexico are linked to this outbreak. The case count by state is: Alabama (3), Arkansas (12), California (9), Colorado (1), Connecticut (4), Florida (5), Georgia (2), Illinois (37), Indiana (1), Iowa (3), Kansas (14), Kentucky (9), Louisiana (5), Maryland (48), Massachusetts (12), Michigan (9), Minnesota (23), Mississippi (2), Missouri (21), Nebraska (8), New Jersey (5), New Mexico (8), New York (12), North Carolina (14), North Dakota (4), … [Read more...]

CDC Assesses Role of Food Handlers in Hepatitis A Transmission

In the latest issue of the Center for Disease Control and PRevention's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, Notes From the Field addresses the role of food handlers restaurants in Hepatitis A transmission. Hepatitis A transmission is occurring in unprecedented numbers across the United States, given that there is an effective vaccine against the virus. As of May 2020, 33 states have reported hepatitis A outbreaks that have sickened more than 32,000 people, caused 19,800 hospitalizations, and 320 deaths since 2016. Hepatitis A infections among food handlers have raised public alarm. Many food safety experts are calling for vaccinating all food handlers. Health departments issue warnings to restaurant patrons every month about food handlers diagnosed with hepatitis A, warning … [Read more...]

Gross Food Neews: New Disposable Gloves Contain Feces and Pathogens

It's time to bring back Gross Food Neews, our look at issues and problems in the food industry that are, well, gross. The topic today is those disposable gloves food handlers use to prevent the spread of bacteria. And the startling finding that some of these new disposable gloves contain feces and bacteria. There have always been issues with the uses of these gloves. I have seen workers use the gloves while working the cash register and handling money, then going right back to handling food without changing their gloves. The point of the gloves is that you put on new ones when you complete a chore and go back to food handling. But now there's a new wrinkle. Microbial testing of new and unused microbial gloves, conducted by Eagle Protect PBC, has found that some new unused … [Read more...]

FDA Report Released on Restaurant Foodborne Illness Factors

The FDA has released findings from the first phase of a 10 year study that is looking at restaurant foodborne illness factors  in fast food restaurants and full service restaurants. The report looked at risk factors from 2013 to 2014. The first 10-year study was conducted between 1998 and 2008. In the 2008 study, the FDA found that the restaurant foodborne illness factors that needed the most improvement were poor personal hygiene, improper food holding/time and temperature, and contaminated equipment and protection from contamination. More than half of all food poisoning outbreaks in the U.S. every year are associated with restaurant food. In 2014, when looking at outbreaks linked to a single location, restaurants accounted for 485 outbreaks, or 65% of the total, and 4780 … [Read more...]

CDC Study Looks at Restaurant Food Allergy Practices

As part of the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report for the week of April 21, 2017, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has published a study about food allergy practices in restaurants across the country. Food allergies affect about 15,000,000 people in this country and cause about 30,000 emergency department visits and 150 to 200 deaths every year. Almost half of the fatal food allergy reactions over a 13 year period were caused by food from a restaurant or other food service establishment. The report found that fewer than half of members of the restaurant staffs surveyed in 278 restaurants had received training on food allergies. And although most restaurants list ingredients or recipes for some menu items, few have separate equipment or areas that are designed … [Read more...]

Sewage on the Restaurant Kitchen Floor and Other Gross Food News

If you had to make a list of things you wouldn't want to see in a restaurant kitchen, it's a good bet that some of them are included in this month's edition of the Neews, food safety stories that put the eew in news, including one contender that may not have initially sprung to mind: sewage. Sewage coming up through the floor drains was one of the 53 food safety violations that health inspectors found at China Pearl in St Peterburg, Fla., according to WTSP News. Other violations included: employees not washing their hands and touching ready-to-eat foods when not wearing gloves, a stench wafting from the restroom, temperature violations, food in the handwashing sink, uncovered bins of food on the floor, and more than 300 rodent droppings. Inspectors made a visit to the restaurant … [Read more...]

CSPI Says Restaurants Pose Twice the Risk of Foodborne Outbreaks

Outbreak data analyzed by the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) says that Americans are twice as likely to get food poisoning from restaurants than from food prepared at home. The review, which covers outbreaks from 2002 through 2011, is titled "Outbreak Alert! 2014". The worst outbreaks of that decade included a Campylobacter outbreak linked to pasteurized milk served to inmates at the California State Prisons. That sickened 1,644 people. In April 2008, Salmonella contaminated jalapeños and Serrano peppers and pepper products sickened 1,535 people in 42 states. And in 2011, Listeria-contamianted cantaloupe produced by Jensen Farms sickened 148 people in 28 states. Overall, 1,610 outbreaks linked to restaurants sickened more than 28,000 people. In that same tie frame, … [Read more...]

Eating At the Mall? You Might Want to Bring Wet Wipes

Everyone has eaten at food courts in shopping malls. They're convenient places to grab a quick bite to eat. The food might not be gourmet, but it's usually pretty good. But have you ever wondered about the food safety at food court dining establishments? When I was younger, my mom would always have wet wipes in her purse, and she wiped down the tables before we sat down to eat. Turns out she was ahead of her time. A new study published in Epidemiology and Infection has found that the food court at shopping malls are a potential transfer point for pathogenic microbes. Bacteria was found on tables and on the cleaning cloths used on them. The bacteria on the cloths was pathogenic, and was found on the tables, suggesting cross-contamination. In other words, the rags and cloths used to … [Read more...]

Florida Passes Bill Prohibiting Required Paid Employee Sick Leave

In a blow to food safety in restaurants, Florida Republican Governor Rick Scott signed HB 655 that takes effect July 1, 2013. The law bans local governments from requiring that companies give employees paid sick time. As Food Poisoning Bulletin has told you before, lack of paid sick leave can cause food poisoning outbreaks. While states do have laws requiring that sick employees do not handle food, many workers will come to work anyway because they need the money. Restaurant employees are usually paid low wages and receive almost no benefits. And a study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention showed that ill food handlers are to blame for most norovirus outbreaks in this country and 65% of the food poisoning outbreaks at restaurants. In just the last month, foodborne illness … [Read more...]

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