Forty-eight million people become ill and 3,000 die each year in the United States because of foodborne disease outbreaks.
According to a 10-year CDC Surveillance report on Foodborne Disease Outbreaks in the United States, more than half of all foodborne illness outbreaks are associated with restaurants, delis, banquet facilities, schools and other institutions.
The report, which summarizes data associated with the 13,405 foodborne disease outbreaks reported to CDC from 1998-2008, should make you think very carefully about not only how frequently, but also where you decide to dine out.
The CDC’s Foodborne Disease Outbreak Surveillance System collects and periodically reports data associated with recognized foodborne disease outbreaks in the United States.
CDC researchers identified gaps in the education of restaurant workers as well as public health surveillance.
The research identifies food preparation and handling practices, worker health policies, and hand-washing practices among the underlying environmental factors that often are not reported during foodborne outbreaks.
The CDC’s Environmental Health Specialists Network (EHS-Net) announced four new publications on restaurant food handling practices that have been linked with foodborne illness outbreaks in restaurant settings.
These publications are on the following topics:
* Ground beef handling,
* Handling of leafy greens,
* Chicken cross-contamination
* Sick food workers
EHS-Net was established to contribute to a better understanding of the causes of restaurant-related foodborne illness outbreaks and to translate that understanding into improved prevention practices. The four studies listed above exemplify EHS-Net’s efforts.
6 Disturbing Facts Gleaned From The Report:
1) 62% Food Workers Don’t Wash Hands After Handling Raw Ground Beef
EHS-Net found that many restaurants prepared ground beef in ways that could lead to cross contamination or undercooking. For example, in 62% of restaurants where workers used bare hands to handle raw ground beef, workers did not wash their hands after handling it.
2) 80% of Managers Don’t Ensure Burger is Cooked Properly
About 80% of managers said that they did not always use a thermometer to make sure that hamburgers were cooked to the right temperature.
3) Majority of Restaurants Improperly Refrigerate Leafy Greens
Most restaurants did not meet FDA guidelines for refrigerating cut leafy greens at 41°F or below.
4) 40% Don’t Use Separate Cutting Boards for Raw Chicken
EHS-Net found that many restaurants did not follow FDA’s advice when preparing and cooking chicken. For example, 40% of managers said that they do not always designate specific cutting boards for use only with raw chicken.
5) Majority of Managers Don’t Check Final Cook Temp of Chicken
Over half of managers said that thermometers were not used to check the final cook temperature of chicken.
6) 32% Worked When Sick with Vomiting or Diarrhea
EHS-Net interviewed 491 restaurant food workers. Twenty percent of workers said that they had worked while ill with vomiting or diarrhea for at least one shift in the previous year; 12% of workers said that they had worked while ill with vomiting or diarrhea on two or more shifts in the previous year.