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Food Handlers Are the Cause of Most Food Poisoning Cases
- Updated: June 4, 2014
In US the leading cause of food poisoning which affects nearly 20 million people a year is norovirus. This highly contagious virus is called cruise ship virus also, however only about 1% of norovirus outbreaks examined by CDC originated in a cruise ship. Over 70% of the outbreaks are caused by infected food handlers and restaurant workers touching food with bare hands says a new CDC report. CDC experts wrote, “Infected food workers are frequently the source of these outbreaks, often by touching ready-to-eat foods served in restaurants with their bare hands.”
Norovirus infection causes stomach pain, diarrhea and vomiting in the infected person. And it spreads whenever that person vomits or defecates. And only 18 norovirus particle can cause gastroenteritis in a person so imagine how fast it could spread if an infected person is preparing food for a large number of people? The type of food served also can have some effect on how easily the virus spreads. Ready to eat foods like fruits oyster etc. that aren’t cooked over high heat can easily get contaminated. Baked food if touched by an infected handler without gloves after baking could carry the virus as well.
According to Center of Disease Control and Prevention, estimations, one out of five employees in restaurants worked while exhibiting symptoms of norovirus infection. They did so because they were afraid of losing their jobs and also leaving the establishment they worked in short staffed. CDC urges the food industry to address these problems by following food safety laws and implementing new policies. CDC representative Aron Hall says, “Businesses can consider using measures that would encourage sick workers to stay home, such as paid sick leave and a staffing plan that includes on-call workers,”