New Food Safety Infosheet — Stay home if you are sick

Don’t go to work if you are ill

It’s easy to say, but hard to do.  Especially if you are a food handler supporting a family, and you don’t get paid for sick days.  Or if you are a line cook and your boss tells you that she really needs you to show up because someone is already sick.

Indiana, like other juresdictions around North America has a law that says if a food handler has one of a handful of illnesses that can be passed to the public through food, they need to stay home. Indiana’s list includes: Salmonella, shiga toxin-producing E. coli, Shigella, hepatitis A and norovirus.

According to the Star Press, the Delaware County (IN) Health Department is starting to crack down on food establishments that lack a policy of excluding employees from work if they have one of the five illnesses"A recent informal survey revealed operators typically could not name any of the five reportable illnesses, or name the reportable symptoms," the Indiana State Department of Health reports in its Winter 2008 newsletter Food Bytes. "Only a few could name any symptoms and perhaps name one reportable illness.

Why hasn’t the law been enforced before now?

"It was sort of like, not a hidden rule, but not a very well understood rule," said Terry Troxell, food division supervisor at the county health department. "No one knew its importance. Now, after we’ve become standardized by the state, it’s one of the things being picked up on during inspections."

This week’s Food Safety Infosheet is all about why it is important to stay home if you are ill, and stay away from food handling until you stop shedding the pathogen in your poop and puke.

Click here to download the Food Safety Infosheet

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About Ben Chapman

Dr. Ben Chapman is a professor and food safety extension specialist at North Carolina State University. As a teenager, a Saturday afternoon viewing of the classic cable movie, Outbreak, sparked his interest in pathogens and public health. With the goal of less foodborne illness, his group designs, implements, and evaluates food safety strategies, messages, and media from farm-to-fork. Through reality-based research, Chapman investigates behaviors and creates interventions aimed at amateur and professional food handlers, managers, and organizational decision-makers; the gate keepers of safe food. Ben co-hosts a biweekly podcast called Food Safety Talk and tries to further engage folks online through Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and, maybe not surprisingly, Pinterest. Follow on Twitter @benjaminchapman.