More Than Half of Foodborne Illnesses Come From Restaurants, Says FDA

Foodborne illness outbreaks are overwhelmingly linked to restaurants, says new research.
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More Than Half of Foodborne Illnesses Come From Restaurants, Says FDA

New data released by the Food and Drug Administration reveals that restaurants are the most common source of foodborne illness outbreaks.

The agency identified five main risk factors from poor personal hygiene to improper food holding time and temperature to contaminated equipment, inadequate cooking, and food obtained from "unsafe" sources.

The findings are part of a ten-year study looking at food practices in fast and full-service restaurants and how to help prevent foodborne outbreaks moving forward.

“It is a stand-alone report representing the first data collection period of the FDA’s current 10-year study on trends in the occurrence of foodborne illness risk factors, food safety behaviors/practices, and interventions in food services facilities,” the report attract says. “Data from the 2013-2014 collection will be used as a baseline to assess trends in the occurrence of risk factors during data collections, in 2017 and 2021. Additional data collections in 2015, 2019, and 2023 investigate similar retail food safety research questions in institutional food service settings and retail food stores.”

More than 14 million people work in the U.S. restaurant industry. “Along with this high demand comes the need for careful attention to food safety practices and behaviors that minimize the incidence of foodborne illness in these locations,” the report says.

But the report is hopeful, saying that restaurants, in particular, have a significant controlling factor in preventing outbreaks.

“Of the food safety behaviors and practices investigated in this study, restaurants had the best control over ensuring no bare hand contact with ready-to-eat foods and cooking raw animal foods to their required temperatures, FDA’s statement said. “The study showed there remains a need to gain better control over employee hand washing and proper temperature control of foods that require refrigeration (cold holding of foods).”

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