A new government report finds nearly twenty million people each year get sick from norovirus and most are linked back to contaminated food and food workers.
The report also finds that the majority of outbreaks started with an infected food service worker who continued to work despite being sick.
Dr. Thomas Frieden is the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. He says, "workers who were infected with Norovirus were associated with about seventy percent of the reported outbreaks from contaminated food where factors contributed to contamination were identified."
The CDC analyzed norovirus outbreak data reported by state and local health departments from 2009 to 2012 through CDC's National Outbreak Reporting System. Over the four years, health departments reported 1,008 norovirus outbreaks from the contaminated food, most of which happened in food service setting like restaurants and catering or banquet facilities.
More than half of the outbreaks involved food workers touching ready-to-eat foods with bare hands. Foods like raw fruits and vegetables for salads or sandwiches, baked goods, or items that have already been cooked.
Dr Frieden says the food service industry can help prevent norovirus outbreaks by enforcing food safety practices, by making sure workers always practice good hand hygiene while on the job and stay home when they are sick.