As food safety professionals, we often play Monday morning quarterback whenever we read a news story about a major food-borne illness outbreak. We wonder what NFSRP standards were violated or if the certified food manager neglected some aspect of safe food training when bringing on new staff. Fortunately, the CDC tracks the vital statistics of an outbreak to bring a clearer picture of how they get started.
Food Training Guide to the Source of Food-Borne-Illness Outbreaks
One glaring statistic in the CDC’s collection of data that drew our attention is that 88-percent of outbreaks begin at a restaurant rather than a food packaging facility. This means that restaurant supervisors must implement quality food training methods that will enforce the importance of diligence in sanitation, prevention of cross contamination and proper temperature control. There is a very slim margin of error when it comes to keeping food safe, and in the fast paced atmosphere of a restaurant kitchen, the consequences multiply when food handling mistakes occur.
A second statistic that jumps out at us is the method of contamination. The top factors for food becoming contaminated are attributed to an employee handling food in some manner while infected with an illness. We think that this speaks volumes as to what a restaurant’s policy should be about working sick. Employees must not handle food while infectious.
The last statistic we’d like to point out is that over 45-percent of food poisoning outbreaks come from multi-ingredient dishes. Second and third place weren’t even close with vine vegetables at eight-percent and fish at seven-percent. There is no real trend to point to one protein or vegetable that is more likely to cause an outbreak than another. This means that all food needs to be handled with care, no matter what type of cuisine in on your menu.
If you’re a restaurateur, do these statistics surprise you? Let us know in the comments section.