Norovirus, the USA’s leading cause of foodborne illness, has become known as causing mass outbreaks of food poisoning – and misery – in restaurants.
Food handlers, such as cooks and waiters, cause about 70% of norovirus outbreaks related to contaminated food, mostly through touching “ready to eat” foods – such as sandwiches or raw fruit – with their bare hands, according to a new report from Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. More than 90% of contamination occurred during food preparation, and 75% of food involved in outbreaks was consumed raw.
Business practices in the food industry may contribute to the problem.
One in five restaurant workers admits having reported to work while sick with diarrhea and vomiting – the two main symptoms of norovirus – within the past year, the CDC says.
About 20 million Americans are sickened with norovirus every year, with a total of 48 million suffering food poisoning from all causes. The highly contagious family of viruses also causes up to 1.9 million doctor visits; 400,000 emergency room visits; up to 71,000 hospitalizations; and up to 800 deaths, mostly in young children or the elderly. Infections cost the country $777 million in health care costs.
Norovirus is wildly contagious.
As few as 18 viral particles can make people sick. In other words, a speck of viruses small enough to fit on the head of pin is potent enough to infect more than 1,000 people, according to a CDC report. The virus can spread rapidly in close quarters, as well, such as dormitories, military barracks and nursing homes.
“Norovirus is one tough bug,” said CDC director Thomas Frieden.
Norovirus can make people violently ill so quickly that they don’t have time to reach a bathroom, says Doug Powell, a food safety expert in Brisbane, Australia, and author of barfblog.com. People who get sick in public often expose many others. Norovirus also can live on surfaces, such as countertops and serving utensils, for up to two weeks.
Norovirus is also the Terminator of germs — very tough to kill. Alcohol-based hand sanitizers don’t work very well, says Lee-Ann Jaykus, a professor of food science at North Carolina State University. That makes frequent handwashing important.
Helping Restaurants protect themselves from a Norovirus outbreak.
Proper food handling and cleaning are very important to keeping viruses out of the building, but employees are busy and do not always do every step correctly. EcoVive provides Antimicrobial surface treatments that provides protection against germs and viruses even when employees are not following the proper steps to clean.
The Micro-biostatic Antimicrobial Coating forms a protective surface protectant by forming a nano-size bed of spikes that disrupts the microorganism’s membrane resulting in the loss of energy in the microbe and its demise. This new technology provides a perfect approach to inhibiting microorganisms without the use of unsafe heavy metals or poisons. This mode of action is entirely unique to other antimicrobial treatments. Our System is one of the most powerful and effective ways to stop the spread of disease because it works day after day to eliminate the infectious micro-organisms where they live.
Cleaning is always essential, but adding an Antimicrobial treatment on a regular cycle can provide extraordinary microbial reductions as high as 99% over a 30-60 cycle. The fact that our AntiMicrobial Protectant can be applied with a minimum of interruption is important. Having is certainly lean extra layer of protection provided by EcoVive is less expensive than gallons of disinfectants, many hours of paid labor, and the fact that there is no residual protection in these traditional sanitizing methods.