A Food borne illness is any illness caused by consuming foods or beverages contaminated with disease-causing microorganisms, hazardous chemicals or physical hazards. A food borne disease outbreak is when two or more people have the same illness after eating the same food. The food service industry regularly experiences tremendous financial losses due to food borne illness. Such losses can be significantly reduced, however, through knowledge and education.
Food borne illness and outbreaks are associated with such behaviors as poor personal hygiene, time and temperature abuse and cross contamination. These topics will be discussed in a later section. A food handler must report to their employer if they are diagnosed with,exposed to or exhibiting symptoms from Norovirus, hepatitis A virus, Salmonella typhi, Shigella spp. or shiga toxin-producing Escherichia coli.
When a food handler becomes ill, proper precautions must be taken. To ensurethe safety of the consumers, the manager of the establishment will either restrict or exclude the ill food handler. Restriction is when a food handler(who does not serve highly susceptible populations) is allowed to work in the food establishment but is not allowed to perform tasks that would cause contamination of food or utensils. Exclusion is when a food handler is not permitted to work in a food establishment until they provide a written release from the proper authority.
The employer shall restrict food handlers that have been diagnosed with the following diseases: sore throat with fever, lesions containing pus, an infected wound, or discharges from the eyes, nose and mouth. Employees exhibiting these symptoms must report them to their employer.The employer shall exclude food handlers that have been diagnosed with the following diseases: Norovirus, hepatitis A virus, Salmonella typhi, Shigella spp. or shiga toxin-producing Escherichia coli. Employees exhibiting these symptoms must report them to their employer.
There are additional requirements for contacting ready-to-eat foods with bare hands. Food handlers may contact ready-to-eat food with their bare hands if documentation is kept, that the food handler has signed, stating that they have received training on hand washing and additional control measures and that the establishment requires that employees must utilize two or more safeguards. These safeguards include double hand washing, nail brushes, hand sanitizer (antiseptics) after hand washing, incentive program or other approved control measures. These safeguards, however, are in addition to proper hand washing.
Documentation must be maintained at the food establishment that corrective actions are taken when any of the food borne illness, good hygienic practices or bare hand contact of ready-to-eat rules are not followed. In Texas it is best to be aware of these protocols by obtaining your Texas Food Handlers Certification and Food Handler Permit Texas.