Objective: To identify contributing factors to foodborne illness outbreaks in food-service facilities and to describe the characteristics, policies and practices of those facilities. Food-service facilities include restaurants, delis, cafeterias, schools, nursing homes, etc.
Study results: Environmental assessments conducted as part of 154 foodborne illness outbreak investigations in food service establishments provided data on a number of establishment characteristics, policies and practices that may serve as potential antecedents to foodborne illness outbreaks. These data are summarized below as preliminary findings.
- The majority (84%) of the foodservice establishments involved in the outbreaks were complex establishments, meaning a complex food handling process is utilized for one or more foods handled in the establishment. Additionally, 13% were cook serve establishments, and 3% were prep serve establishments.
- Spanish was the primary language of 58% of food workers but only 41% of managers could speak Spanish.
- Floor cleaning policies existed in 95% of establishments, but only 37% of these policies were written.
- Fewer establishments had policies on cleaning of food contact surfaces (88%), cutting boards (89%), and food slicers (72%).
- The majority (96%) of establishments had hand sinks available in employee restrooms and work areas (94%). However, hands-free operated sinks were rare (restrooms: 4%; work areas: 3%).
Action Item: Check your hand washing procedures, floor cleaning, and other related food safety policies to be sure they are followed and enforced.