CDC findings focus on food safety in restaurants

Dinner_Fancy_blogThe U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is taking aim at improving food safety in restaurants and delis, which are linked to more than half of foodborne illness outbreaks annually.

The CDC  found several gaps in food worker knowledge as well as in public health surveillance, including food handling practices, hand washing, environmental factors and employee health policies. These factors often are not reported as part of foodborne illness outbreaks, CDC noted.

In four articles published in the Journal of Food Protection, the CDC outlines several steps to prevent foodborne illness outbreaks and corresponding food safety practices.

“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 in a statement.

The CDC has worked with state and local health departments since 2000 to improve training and surveillance to enhance the use of environmental health measures when investigating outbreaks. However, CDC also has announced some new measures, including the National Voluntary Environmental Assessment Information System (NVEAIS). The system will focus on local, state and tribal regulators who inspect restaurants and food facilities, and will give them a new way to collect environmental assessment information. This in turn may help trace outbreaks back to their source.

NVAEIS is slated to launch in early 2014 along with a new e-learning program to help local and state officials better investigate outbreaks.

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