Just Say No to Norovirus!

Nobody enjoys cleaning up after a vomit or diarrhea related accident, but if it’s not done correctly, you, your co-workers, or your customers could be exposed to norovirus.  It only takes about 10 norovirus particles to produce a case of gastroenteritis, and one sinNoro Cleanup Postergle vomiting incident can release 300,000 or more of these viral particles into the environment. And perhaps worst of all, not all disinfectants are effective at destroying norovirus.  If surfaces that become contaminated with vomit or diarrhea are not disinfected properly, norovirus can survive for several days or even weeks!

In an effort to stop norovirus in its tracks, the State Environmental Health Office has provided several resources that can be used to help assure the effective cleanup of contaminated surfaces during these events.   These resources, including a sample clean-up procedure, a corresponding color poster, and a list of EPA registered disinfectants that are effective against norovirus, can be found in the Food Service FAQs located here:

CDPH Food Service FAQs

Please take some time to review your own cleanup protocol to make sure that it’s strong enough to tackle norovirus!

 

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Required Training in Food Allergen Awareness

Contributed by Terry Fuller, CDC Associate

According to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), each year, millions of Americans have allergic reactions to food. Some food allergies can cause severe reactions, which in some circumstances, may result in death. Avoidance of the food and early recognition of the signs and symptoms if the food is accidently eaten are ways to prevent serious health consequences.

According to Georgia Department of Public Health (DPH) Rule 511-6-1-.03(2)(l), it is the responsibility of the Person in Charge (PIC) to ensure that their employees are properly trained in food safety, including food allergy awareness, as it relates to their assigned duties.  Please include the following information in your training.

The eight major food allergens:

  • Milk
  • Eggs
  • Peanuts
  • Tree nuts which include, but are not limited to, walnut, almond, hazelnut, cashew, pistachio, and Brazil nuts.
  • Soybeans
  • Wheat
  • Fish
  • Crustacean shellfish which include crab, lobster, and shrimp

Employees should know where to find their restaurant’s ingredient list and allergy information that identifies the eight most common food allergens for their menu items and how to respond to customer inquiries.

According to the FDA, cross-contact occurs “when residue or trace amount of an allergenic food becomes incorporated into another food not intended to contain it.”  These transferred amounts usually cannot be seen. One example is using the same fryer for frying shrimp and then using it later for frying chicken. The fried chicken could potentially make a person sick that has an allergy to shrimp.

The most common signs and symptoms of an allergic reaction are wheezing; coughing; trouble breathing; hives; fainting; and swelling of the throat, face, lips, or tongue.  A severe reaction to a food allergen may result in anaphylaxis, which may lead to death.  Workers should be on the lookout for these signs and symptoms and know how to respond to such an incident.

More information to assist you is available on the FDA’s website:

http://www.fda.gov/Food/ResourcesForYou/Consumers/ucm079311.htm

Are You “Employee Health” Compliant?

kill-germs-hand-washingIn one trip to the restroom, a food worker infected with Norovirus may shed up to 1 trillion viral particles in 1 gram of stool; yet, it only takes as few as 10 viral particles to spread Norovirus to someone else. This is one of the reasons why Employee Health is an important part of food safety and illness prevention and is emphasized in our Rules and Regulations for Food Service [511-6-1-.03(4) ].  The new Rules and Regulations require that food service owners and operators be able to provide proof that they have informed conditional and established food workers of the reporting requirements associated with their personal health.  You may access documents to assist you with your Employee Health Policy compliance at the Food Service FAQs located here.