Chances are the following scenario has happened to you or a friend at least one time. You get home from eating a delicious meal at a local restaurant. You get all snuggly comfortable in your pajamas and settle in for an evening of your favorite television shows. Then, without warning, your stomach and intestines start to act suspicious. You hear stomach gurgles and start to feel nauseous. Then, without the quickest of reflexes, you bolt to the bathroom for a bout of either “the runs” or vomiting, all the while thinking, “What in the world did I eat?”
Norovirus, most likely. Yes, norovirus is the most common digestive disrupting virus you can get and much of the time, it’s from contaminated food at restaurants. The source? Infected food workers who show up to work ill or don’t thoroughly wash their hands after using the restroom. In fact, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, most norovirus outbreaks begin in food service settings. 
Tips for food preparation workers need to pay attention
If you work in the food prep industry, it’s important that you promote food safety by following safety regulations. This includes thoroughly washing hands after using the restroom and handling food. It also entails staying home if you are sick with norovirus yourself. Many workers come down with norovirus and then return to work the day after symptoms have passed. The problem with this is that they are still contagious for a few days to two weeks after symptoms have run their course.
Preventing restaurant norovirus outbreaks
Here are some key recommendations when it comes to preventing a restaurant from spreading norovirus:
- Cook shellfish thoroughly.
- Lettuce, fruit, and oysters are among the most common foods associated with the spread of norovirus. It’s recommended that kitchen workers wear gloves when handling these.
- Train kitchen staff well when it comes to food safety. Don’t just give them a piece of paper to read about norovirus. Have an actual conversation.
- Ensure staff washes hands thoroughly with soap and hot water after using the restroom and before touching any food.
- Update restaurant policy to state that infected workers remain at home for at least two days after symptoms have subsided.
- Reduce the need for workers to touch ready-to-eat foods with bare hands. Opt for gloves if possible.
- Managers stay firm with surveillance efforts. Watch staff to be sure they are following safety food preparation protocol.