Outbreak Sickens 75 at Minnesota Banquet
Might the norovirus have entered the catered event via an ill worker, perhaps symptom-free? Or a guest? Or from contact with a high-touch surface contaminated the week before?
One surefire added intervention to protect public health is the expanded use of a norovirus effective alcohol hand sanitizer. The Venetian and Palazzo resorts in Las Vegas, fleets of cruise ships and the Clark County (NV) Schools have reduced their outbreak potential by adopting this innovation. Leading restaurateurs like Chick-fil-A, who share a high concern for public health, have also made this transition: Hand Sanitizers & Purell.
Ironically, the Minnesota state regulators are slow to accept the science of Emory University and resist spreading the word on this innovation. They are part of a contingent unofficially guided by the FDA to minimize Alcohol Hand Sanitizer's use in food service environments. This is easily accomplished by calls for more research, by hand hygiene committee formation by the Conference for Food Protection and smoke screens like suggesting that approval by CDER (Center for Drug Evauation and Research) is required.
CDER responsibilities are about product, "in the bottle" chemical compounds and their label claims, and do not include the hand hygiene effectiveness factors derived from the process - the friction and time as seen in the multiple studies by BioScience Laboratories on SaniTwice (PDF).
The science is obvious and undisputed but when doubts are expressed by regulators, state or federal, the status quo is protected by "the flywheel of conventional thinking". Innovation and progress via the Food Code are often at odds.
This dual step cleanse-sanitize protocol is another documented valuable intervention for catered events where running water is not readily available. SaniTwice, in peer reviewed research, published in the Journal of Food Protection, was found to be "equivalent or superior to" a soap/water handwash.