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Hand washing

Norovirus: Handwashing and Exclusion of Ill Employees Most Effective Mitigation Measures

By Food Safety Tech Staff
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Hand washing

FDA has completed a research study entitled, Evaluation of the Impact of Compliance with Mitigation Strategies and Frequency of Restaurants Surface Cleaning and Sanitizing on Control of Norovirus Transmission from Ill Food Employees Using and Existing Quantitative Risk Assessment Model,” which focused on identifying strategies to reduce the risk of norovirus (NoV) from consumption of foods prepared in food establishments.

The study, which was published in the Journal of Food Protection, evaluated more than 60 scenarios examining the impact of implementation of and compliance with recommendations contained in the FDA Food Code.

The objectives of the risk assessment were to:

  • Evaluate the dynamics of norovirus transmission from ill or infected food employees to ready-to-eat food and consumers.
  • Evaluate the impact of prevention strategies and their level of compliance on the prevalence of contaminated food servings and the number resulting infected consumers.
  • Provide a basis for evaluation of potential changes regarding Employee Health for the 2017 FDA Food Code.

The study found that:

  • Compliance with Food Code exclusion of ill food employees and hand hygiene rules had the most impact on consumer illnesses.
  • Washing hands before donning and changing gloves efficiently reduces NoV transfer.
  • Restriction of food employees needs additional provisions to be effective.
  • Eliminating hand-contact from restroom surfaces and prioritizing cleaning and sanitizing of restroom surfaces in restaurants helps to control the transmission of norovirus to food and consumers.
  • Surface cleaning and sanitizing has the least impact on consumer illnesses.