The FDA has released findings from the first phase of a 10 year study that is looking at restaurant foodborne illness factors in fast food restaurants and full service restaurants. The report looked at risk factors from 2013 to 2014. The first 10-year study was conducted between 1998 and 2008.
In the 2008 study, the FDA found that the restaurant foodborne illness factors that needed the most improvement were poor personal hygiene, improper food holding/time and temperature, and contaminated equipment and protection from contamination.
More than half of all food poisoning outbreaks in the U.S. every year are associated with restaurant food. In 2014, when looking at outbreaks linked to a single location, restaurants accounted for 485 outbreaks, or 65% of the total, and 4780 illnesses, or 44%. Many of these outbreaks led to lawsuits. The FDA at that time stated it needed more research to identify the root causes for these poor retail food safety practices, and to determine effective intervention strategies.
The restaurant foodborne illness risk factors that were listed for this study include employee handwashing, proper temperature control of perishable foods, improper food holding time, hand-to-hand contact with ready-to-eat foods, cooking raw animal foods to safe final and required internal temperatures, contaminated equipment, and food obtained from unsafe sources.