New Food Safety Infosheet: Over 50 norovirus illnesses linked to ill food handlers

The newest food safety infosheet, a graphical one-page food safety-related story directed at food businesses, is now available.

Food Safety Infosheet Highlights:

– Mankato, MN civic center catering company linked to virus outbreak at two separate events

– Investigators trace outbreak to multiple food handlers who were ill

– Don’t handle food while ill; especially if you have symptoms like diarrhea (when transmission is likely) or vomiting (as virus particles may be spread to hands, clothes and other surfaces).

Click here to download.

Ill food handlers are bad for business and not an accident: California Pizza Kitchen edition

In the June 2012 edition of the Journal of Infectious Diseases, U.S. Centers for Disease Control & Prevention noro dude, Aron Hall, called norovirus "the perfect human pathogen." Hall says with its low median infectious dose and environmental stability norovirus is built to be transferred.

And then there’s the spread: billions of particles can be shed in every gram of feces and vomit from an infected individual (even if not showing symptoms) and transferred well through fomites, food and water. Sort of a nightmare for a restaurant.

Last week a Walnut Creek California California Pizza Kitchen dealt with its own noro nightmare – over 20 patrons reported illnesses following graduation ceremonies and the restaurant was shut down. During the investigation Costa County health officials said that at least three food handlers were also ill.

According to regional manager Chris Hedges, the fallout was that California Pizza Kitchen was closed for 3 days as staff were retrained and a cleaning crew that specializes in norovirus was brought in.

The regional manager said the company was "very pro-active" about getting the restaurant open again.
He said business has been good since the restaurant reopened Saturday. The eatery was indeed half full at 2 p.m. Monday.

Hedges said some customers probably weren’t aware of the closure while others were happy about the reopening.

"It’s great to get the support of the community and our customers who realize that accidents sometimes happen," said Hedges.

Having sick staff handling food is more careless than accidental and can lead to further spread of illnesses; just ask Heston Blumenthal.