Contributing Factors in Restaurant- Associated Foodborne Disease Outbreaks, FoodNet Sites, 2006 and 2007

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Enteric Diseases Epidemiology Branch, Atlanta, Georgia 30330, USA. .
Journal of food protection (Impact Factor: 1.85). 11/2013; 76(11):1824-8. DOI: 10.4315/0362-028X.JFP-13-037
Source: PubMed


An estimated 48 million cases of foodborne illness occur each year in the United States, resulting in approximately 128,000 hospitalizations and 3,000 deaths. Over half of all foodborne disease outbreaks reported to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are associated with eating in restaurants or delicatessens. We reviewed data from restaurant-associated foodborne disease outbreaks to better understand the factors that contribute to these outbreaks. Data on restaurant-associated foodborne disease outbreaks reported by sites participating in the Foodborne Diseases Active Surveillance Network (FoodNet) were analyzed to characterize contributing factors reported in foodborne disease outbreaks and the levels of evidence used to identify these factors. Of 457 foodborne disease outbreaks reported in 2006 and 2007 by FoodNet sites, 300 (66%) were restaurant associated, and of these 295 (98%) had at least one reported contributing factor. One to nine (with a median of two) contributing factors were reported per outbreak. Of the 257 outbreaks with a single etiology reported, contributing factors associated with food worker health and hygiene were reported for 165 outbreaks (64%), factors associated with food preparation practices within the establishment were reported for 88 outbreaks (34%), and factors associated with contamination introduced before reaching the restaurant were reported for 56 outbreaks (22%). The pronounced role of food workers in propagating outbreaks makes it clear that more work is needed to address prevention at the local level. Food workers should be instructed not to prepare food while ill to prevent the risk of transmitting pathogens.

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    ABSTRACT: Data collected by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) show that improper cooling practices contributed to more than 500 foodborne illness outbreaks associated with restaurants or delis in the United States between 1998 and 2008. CDC's Environmental Health Specialists Network (EHS-Net) personnel collected data in approximately 50 randomly selected restaurants in nine EHS-Net sites in 2009 to 2010 and measured the temperatures of cooling food at the beginning and the end of the observation period. Those beginning and ending points were used to estimate cooling rates. The most common cooling method was refrigeration, used in 48% of cooling steps. Other cooling methods included ice baths (19%), room-temperature cooling (17%), ice-wand cooling (7%), and adding ice or frozen food to the cooling food as an ingredient (2%). Sixty-five percent of cooling observations had an estimated cooling rate that was compliant with the 2009 Food and Drug Administration Food Code guideline (cooling to 41°F [5°C] in 6 h). Large cuts of meat and stews had the slowest overall estimated cooling rate, approximately equal to that specified in the Food Code guideline. Pasta and noodles were the fastest cooling foods, with a cooling time of just over 2 h. Foods not being actively monitored by food workers were more than twice as likely to cool more slowly than recommended in the Food Code guideline. Food stored at a depth greater than 7.6 cm (3 in.) was twice as likely to cool more slowly than specified in the Food Code guideline. Unventilated cooling foods were almost twice as likely to cool more slowly than specified in the Food Code guideline. Our data suggest that several best cooling practices can contribute to a proper cooling process. Inspectors unable to assess the full cooling process should consider assessing specific cooling practices as an alternative. Future research could validate our estimation method and study the effect of specific practices on the full cooling process.
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