Food Services Solutions Articles

Foodborne Illness: Practical guide for reporting, restriction, and exclusion of sick employees (Part 1)

safety provecho fss foodborne illness

The foodservice employees and the person in charge (PIC) have a very important responsibility on preventing the spread of food borne illnesses. The personal hygiene is paramount. In addition, the practice of reporting symptoms, and restricting or excluding food handling activities are very important. Sometimes, however, it might be confusing to determine the correct actions management should take. Here is a small guide on what is the FDA recommends.

Food employees must report the following symptoms to management:

 • Vomiting

 • Diarrhea

 • Jaundice (yellow skin or eyes)

 • Sore throat with fever

 • Infected cuts and burns with pus on hands and wrists

In case of vomiting or diarrhea, management should ask them to stop working and go home or seek medical attention. The employees can not return until 24 hours have passed without vomit or diarrhea.

If the employee is not feeling well and their eyes and, or skin turns yellow, they must seek medical attention immediately and not return to work until they are cleared by a health practitioner. 

Employees with sore throat and fever might stay and work as long as they are able to do so and they are reassigned to a position that does not include contact with food or food contact surfaces.

Cuts and burs on hands and exposed portions of the arms must always be kept clean and water proof cored. They represent a higher health risk if they are infected and management might also reassign their job position or ask them to seek medical attention.

Note that establishments that serve Highly Susceptible Populations (HSP), such as hospitals or nursing homes, must have stricter practices and exclude from work a food handler who is presenting the reportable symptoms or is diagnosed with a food borne illness.

We will cover the actions associated with diagnosed food borne illnesses on part 2.

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