Whether it be the historic e.coli breakout in Chipotle’s chicken or any of the several food-related product recalls, we all have at least one chill-inducing story that comes to mind when we think of food poisoning. Expired ingredients, improper cooking and even undetected bacteria are all things we likely associate with the cause of food poisoning, but the CDC just revealed that one of the most common causes of the illness is more personal than you may think.
In a new report published this week that gathered data from 2017 to 2019, the CDC revealed that around 40 percent of all outbreaks of food-borne illness were associated with contamination by an ill employee. The report collected data reported by 25 local and state health departments that spanned a number of outbreaks at different restaurants.
Though norovirus—which causes vomiting and diarrhea—was confirmed to be the number-one cause of food poisoning, accounting for 47 percent of all outbreaks, the CDC’s report still stresses the impact of sick workers on food-borne illness. “Ill workers continue to play a substantial role in retail food establishment outbreaks,” the authors of the study explain, “and comprehensive ill worker policies will likely be necessary to mitigate this public health problem.”
In terms of why workers continue to show up to the workplace when sick, less than half of the institutions involved in the study offer paid sick leave, and the report has indicated that fear of losing money on top of social pressure are the key components in sick workers coming into work.