U.S – A study on mitigating the risk of contracting norovirus from the consumption of foods prepared in food service establishments has revealed that full compliance with FDA Food Code recommendations for hand hygiene and the exclusion of ill food employees from the workplace have the largest impact.
The study, conducted by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration used an FDA quantitative risk assessment model that was published in 2017 to evaluate how the implementation of and compliance with FDA Food Code recommendations impacted norovirus transmission in more than 60 scenarios.
Observed Food Code recommendations included those for restaurant surface cleaning and sanitizing, hand hygiene, and employee health.
The purpose of the study was to provide a basis for considering potential changes to the 2017 FDA Food Code regarding employee health.
The study examined the dynamics of norovirus transmission from infected food workers to ready-to-eat food and customers, as well as the effects of preventative measures and compliance levels on the prevalence of tainted food and the number of infected people as a result.
As depicted by the study, the greatest impact on consumer diseases and the greatest decreases in norovirus outbreaks came from strict adherence to the Food Code’s guidelines for hand hygiene and the exclusion of sick food workers from the workplace.
FDA discovered that in order for the ban on sick food workers to be successful, it must also include other requirements, such as mandatory, increased handwashing frequency, or forbidding sick workers from touching any surfaces outside of the bathroom.
Additionally, the study found that employee handwashing before putting on gloves is crucial to guarantee that gloves do not allow norovirus contamination or increase the risk of sickness. It demonstrated that risk can be reduced by increasing compliance with this guideline.
Furthermore, it has been demonstrated that reducing employee hand contact with toilet surfaces and enhancing the cleanliness and sanitization of those surfaces can help reduce norovirus transmission in restaurants to food and patrons.
The Food Code is a model that the FDA provides to help food control jurisdictions at all levels of government by giving them a legally and technically solid foundation for regulating the retail and food service sector of the industry.
In order to create or update their own food safety regulations and to be in line with national food regulatory policy, local, state, tribal, and federal regulators use the FDA Food Code as a model.
It was previously published every two years in its current version between 1993 and 2001. The FDA however shifted to a four-year gap between full Food Code editions with the support of the Conference for Food Protection (CFP).
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