Increased awareness and implementation of food safety procedures at restaurants could decrease the incidence of foodborne illness, which accounts for half of all outbreaks, according to CDC. Research data shows that food preparation, worker health policies, and handwashing are leading unreported causes of foodborne illness. In all, 48 million people become ill and 3,000 die in the U.S. from foodborne illness each year.
"Inspectors have not had a formal system to capture and report the underlying factors that likely contribute to foodborne outbreaks or a way to inform prevention strategies and implement routine corrective measures in restaurants, delis and schools to prevent future outbreaks," said Carol Selman, head of CDC's Environmental Health Specialists Network team at the National Center for Environmental Health.
CDC has worked with state and local health officials to develop surveillance tools to monitor food safety. The agency also released four new publications on restaurant food handling to outline particularly problematic shortcomings in procedure on the handling of ground beef, leafy greens, chicken and cross contamination, and sick food workers.
Ground beef handling is important because of the risk of e. coli. Cross contamination and undercooking are the largest causes of infection. Even still, CDC reported that 62 percent of employees did not wear protective gloves when working with ground beef and 80 percent of restaurant managers say that they don’t always use a meat thermometer to ensure it’s fully cooked.
Most restaurants did not meet FDA guidelines for refrigerating leafy greens to 41 degrees F and 40 percent admitted they do not designate certain cutting boards for working with raw poultry. Twenty percent of workers said that they have worked a shift in the past year while ill with diarrhea or vomiting. These are both symptoms of foodborne illness.
This definitely makes me want to cook at home.