FDA Releases Initial Findings on Food Safety in Restaurants
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more than half of foodborne illness outbreaks that occur each year are associated with food from restaurants. CDC has identified five major risk factors related to food safety practices within the retail food industry that contribute to foodborne illness: (1) poor personal hygiene; (2) improper food holding/time and temperature; (3) contaminated equipment/protection from contamination; (4) inadequate cooking; and (5) food obtained from unsafe sources.
FDA previously conducted a 10-year study between 1998-2008 to measure trends in the occurrence of foodborne illness risk factors and food safety behaviors/practices in the retail food industry. At that time, FDA concluded that many segments of the retail food industry required improvement in three areas: (1) poor personal hygiene; (2) improper food holding/time and temperature; and (3) contaminated equipment/protection from contamination. Ultimately, FDA determined it needed to continue to study effective intervention strategies and inspection approaches for the retail food setting.
On November 7, 2018, FDA has released its initial set of findings of a ten-year study, which started in 2013 and will conclude in 2023, on foodborne illness risk factors in fast food and full service restaurants. Ultimately, key findings from the restaurant data highlight the importance of food safety management systems, including certified food protection managers. Of the food safety practices investigated, 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. The study showed there remains a need to gain better control over employee handwashing and proper temperature control of foods that require refrigeration (cold holding of foods). Additional data collections in 2015, 2019, and 2023 investigate similar retail food safety research questions in institutional food service settings and retail food stores and will be made available once completed.