Symptom vs. Source
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), norovirus continues to be responsible for over 50 percent of foodborne illnesses in the U.S. In recent years, a majority of foodborne norovirus outbreaks occurred in restaurants, often related to an infected employee practicing poor handwashing and subsequently handling food. There is no way to totally keep ill workers out of the restaurant because of norovirus's asymptomatic profile. Thus, handwashing becomes the primary intervention.
The core causes of this persistent consumer risk of under-washed hands in restaurants include these three contributing factors:
1. Operator complacency
2. No process control in place for handwashing, no standards, no base for interdepartmental collaboration
3. Unhelpful Model Food Code
At least one new restaurant concept has reacted to these realities in the context of HACCP. The CDC says “Handwashing is the single-most important means of preventing the spread of infection.” Crushed Red founder, Chris LaRocca, says “let's start there.” He responded to the challenge with technology to help motivate handwashing policy compliance. Check out this interview re the Norovirus battlefield:
Mr. LaRocca insisted on a system that could monitor staff handwashing in the restrooms, the source of many norovirus outbreaks. It is a powerful play to replace the laughable handwash reminder signs on the mirror with actual data: