Norovirus has become a serious food safety issue and food safety managers should be aware of how norovirus can spread and how to prevent it. State and local health departments have begun to focus on the prevention of norovirus outbreaks and have issued new food safety rules to protect consumers from a norovirus outbreak.
In fact, organizations that sell, make or serve food must comply with specific health department regulations that require them to have supplies and procedures in place to respond to norovirus events.
Anyone can become infected by norovirus. Norovirus infections occur when someone:
- touches a contaminated surface like a doorknob, counter or table top;
- consumes contaminated food or water; and
- has contact with a person with norovirus.
Norovirus is very contagious and spreads quickly. It is common for norovirus outbreaks to occur in places like restaurants, schools, airports and other locations where people gather and consume food. There are frequent news reports of dozens getting norovirus from eating at the same restaurant, staying at the same hotel or being on the same cruise ship. Outbreaks usually cause store, hospital or school closings and damage to business reputations.
Although it’s impossible to prevent an employee or customer with norovirus from coming into your business, you can reduce the risk of norovirus outbreaks. Food safety managers can ensure that first responders to norovirus events (vomit and diarrhea spills) have what they need. State and local health department food safety regulations are intended to prevent norovirus outbreaks.
Health inspectors require food service operators (organizations that make, sell or serve food) to have vomit clean up/spill kits on hand along with written procedures for employees to follow in the event of a vomit or diarrhea contamination event. These kits should include disinfectants that are rated to kill norovirus as well as the supplies necessary to protect first responders from getting infected. Being prepared is a smart business decision for food safety managers. It reduces the risks of outbreaks, closings, reputation damage and in some cases, foodborne illness lawsuits.
We are familiar with state and local requirements and can suggest compliant products. If you would like to speak with a norovirus consultant or would like additional information, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.