U.S. – The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has identified improper holding time/temperature, poor personal hygiene, contaminated equipment,inadequate cooking and unsafe sources of food as the risk factors in retail food store deli departments in the United States .

This is according to a study they had conducted to investigate the relationship between Food Safety Management Systems (FSMS), Certified Food Protection Manager (CFPM) and the occurrence of risk factors and food safety behaviors/practices commonly associated with foodborne illness in United States in retail food store deli departments (delis) from 2015-2016.

The two most commonly occurring out-of-compliance risk factors were improper holding time/temperature (91.2%) and poor personal hygiene (71.5%).

Of the foodborne illness risk factors investigated in this study, inadequate cooking was best controlled.

Food Safety Management Systems (FSMS) were the strongest predictor of the compliance status of data items.

 Establishments with well-developed FSMS had significantly fewer out-of-compliance food safety practices than did those with less developed food safety management systems.

FSMS refers to a specific set of actions used by food service establishments to help achieve Active Managerial Control (AMC).

Approximately 32% of delis had well-developed or well-developed and documented FSMS.

These findings imply that well-developed and documented FSMS are a useful tool in reducing the occurrence of foodborne illness risk factors.

Analysis of the study data showed that deli departments had the best control over ensuring no bare-hand contact with ready-to-eat foods and cooking raw animal foods to required temperatures.

Neither the presence of a Certified Food Protection Manager (CFPM) nor the multiple-unit status of establishments were significant predictors of having out-of-compliance data items when all factors studied were taken into account.

A CFPM is an individual who has shown proficiency in food safety information by passing a test that is part of an accredited program.

The most common food safety behaviors and practices needing improvement include ensuring employees practice proper handwashing, holding foods requiring refrigeration at the proper temperature, and cooling foods properly.

Foodborne illnesses statistics

 Foodborne diseases cause approximately 48 million illnesses, 128,000 hospitalizations, and 3,000 deaths each year.

The annual economic burden from health losses due to foodborne illness is estimated at 77.7 billion dollars.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), when considering incidents in 2015 and 2016, retail food stores accounted for 23 outbreaks (3%), and 15 outbreaks (2%), respectively, and 572 illnesses (5%), and 239 illnesses (2%), respectively.

The FDA will continue to collect data on the occurrence of foodborne illness risk factors and use the results to aid decision makers in minimizing the occurrence of risk factors responsible for causing foodborne illness.