Foodservice Equipment Reports

Sick Workers Making Kitchens Unsafe

Safe food-handling training and protection can only go so far in keeping a germ-free kitchen. According to a nine-state study in the February issue of  The Journal of Food Protection, one out of eight restaurant workers has come to work at least twice in the past year while suffering from diarrhea or vomiting.

That’s 12% of all workers, more than double the 5% of workers found in previous studies, according to Dr. Steven Sumner, the study’s lead author.

The type of restaurant—chain or independent outlet, fast-food or sit-down—didn’t matter, nor did whether the workers spoke English. If a restaurant doesn’t offer paid sick leave, sick workers show up for work. However, the busier the restaurant (busy defined as serving more than 300 meals on a busy day), the more likely it was to have workers that worked sick.

Foodborne illness kills 5,000 Americans annually, according to the study authors, and sickens at least 76 million. More at

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