ABSTRACT

Norovirus is the leading cause of foodborne illness outbreaks in the United States, and restaurants are the most common setting of foodborne norovirus outbreaks. Therefore, prevention and control of restaurant-related foodborne norovirus outbreaks is critical to lowering the burden of foodborne illness in the United States. Data for 124 norovirus outbreaks and outbreak restaurants were obtained from Centers for Disease Control and Prevention surveillance systems and analyzed to identify relationships between restaurant characteristics and outbreak size and duration. Findings showed that restaurant characteristics, policies, and practices were linked with both outbreak size and outbreak duration. Compared with their counterparts, restaurants that had smaller outbreaks had the following characteristics: managers received food safety certification, managers and workers received food safety training, food workers wore gloves, and restaurants had cleaning policies. In addition, restaurants that provided food safety training to managers, served food items requiring less complex food preparation, and had fewer managers had shorter outbreaks compared with their counterparts. These findings suggest that restaurant characteristics play a role in norovirus outbreak prevention and intervention; therefore, implementing food safety training, policies, and practices likely reduces norovirus transmission, leading to smaller or shorter outbreaks.

HIGHLIGHTS
  • Restaurant policies and practices are related to smaller and shorter norovirus outbreaks.

  • Outbreaks were smaller and shorter in restaurants with staff food safety training.

  • Outbreaks were smaller in restaurants with cleaning policies.

  • Outbreaks were smaller in restaurants in which workers were observed wearing gloves.

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