New guidelines developed with input from the National Restaurant Association are designed to help foodservice operators protect themselves and customers while assisting investigators during a foodborne illness outbreak.
Two U.S. Cabinet members gave the thumbs up July 30 to the guidelines from the Council to Improve Foodborne Outbreak Response. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius commended the council for working with government and the foodservice industry to write the 80-page document.
“Both industry and government have a shared responsibility for the safety of our nation’s food supply. By outlining and clarifying specific roles and responsibilities during each outbreak, we develop greater trust and accountability among stakeholders and consumers,” Vilsack said in a news release from the National Restaurant Association.
The guidelines are for owners, operators and managers of foodservice businesses. They provide step-by-step directions on what to do during different phases of an outbreak investigation. Sample forms and other documents are included and cover how to decide if employees should stay home from work or be reassigned if they have symptoms of contagious illnesses.
The documents also include forms to use for tracking incoming food and supplies so that investigators can easily traceback potential sources of contamination.
The importance of having specific, written recipes is stressed in the guidelines because of the difficulties investigators encounter when a food contains multiple ingredients, according to the council’s website at www.cifor.us.
Also included in the guidelines are tips for talking to employees about outbreak investigations and how to handle media inquiries during an ongoing investigation.
“The CIFOR Foodborne Illness Response Guidelines are an important tool for restaurant owners and operators, and reflect our industry’s commitment to protecting the public health,” NRA president Dawn Sweeney said in the news release.