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