Norovirus, the sometimes deadly, always uncomfortable, and extremely contagious virus commonly known as food poisoning, affects more than 20 million people each year. But even though norovirus is commonly associated with contaminated, expired, or undercooked food, the Center for Disease Control recently came out with a report that suggests that approximately 70 percent of norovirus outbreaks are caused by food workers, primarily from touching prepared foods with bare hands.
The CDC is urging restaurants and other food service industry professionals to help battle the outbreak of the norovirus by cracking down on hand-washing, and usage of gloves when handling raw or ready-made foods. In addition, the CDC says that food workers should be required to stay home when ill on paid sick leave ( Connecticut is currently the only state with mandatory paid sick leave within the private sector).
“The food service industry has a crucial role to play in helping prevent norovirus outbreaks from contaminated food,” said CDC director Tom Frieden. “A lot more can be done to increase food safety and ensure that food service workers adhere to food safety laws, regulations, and guidelines.”
Joanna Fantozzi is an Associate Editor with The Daily Meal. Follow her on Twitter @JoannaFantozzi