FDA Releases Report on the Occurrence of Foodborne Illness Risk Factors in Fast Food and Full-Service Restaurants, 2013-2014

Nov 30, 2018 | Michelle Shapiro

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) released findings from the initial phase of a 10-year study that is evaluating trends in food preparation practices and employee behaviors that contribute to foodborne illness outbreaks in the retail setting.

Data from this study are meant to provide valuable insights for restaurant management to address and reduce common unsafe behaviors/practices within fast food and full-service restaurants. FDA’s National Retail Food Team will continue to work with stakeholders, such as the National Restaurant Association, National Council of Chain Restaurants, restaurant chain companies and state restaurant associations in addressing food safety behaviors/practices in need of attention.

This national observational study is investigating the relationship between food safety management systems, certified food protection managers, and the occurrence of risk factors and food safety behaviors/practices commonly associated with foodborne illness in restaurants. The primary study objectives for the 2013-2014 data collection period were to:

  • Identify the least and most often occurring foodborne illness risk factors and food safety behaviors/practices in restaurants within the United States;
  • Determine the extent to which food safety management systems and the presence of a certified food protection manager impact the occurrence of food safety behaviors/practices, and;
  • Determine whether the occurrence of food safety behaviors/practices in restaurants differs based on an establishment’s risk categorization (the number of times the establishment has been inspected based on the risk associated with the complexity of food preparation in the food establishment) and status as a single-unit or multiple-unit operation (whether the establishment is a part of a chain or not).

The “Report on the Occurrence of Foodborne Illness Risk Factors in Fast Food and Full Service Restaurants, 2013-2014 ” represents the first data collection period of the FDA’s ten-year study which started in 2013 and will conclude in -2023. Data from the 2013-2014 collection will be used as a baseline to assess trends in the occurrence of risk factors during subsequent data collections, in 2017 and 2021 in fast food and full service restaurants. Additional data collections in 2015, 2019, and 2023 investigate similar retail food safety research questions in institutional food service settings and retail food stores.

Key findings from the information collected during the 2013-2014 restaurant data collection period highlight the importance of food safety management systems and certified food protection managers and specific unsafe food behaviors/practices within fast food and full-service restaurants. Of the food safety behaviors/practices investigated in this study, restaurants had the best control over ensuring no bare hand contact with ready-to-eat foods and cooking raw animal foods to their required temperatures. The study showed there remains a need to gain better control over employee handwashing and proper temperature control of foods that require refrigeration (cold holding of foods).

You can email the FDA National Retail Food Team at retailfoodpolicyteam@fda.hhs.gov.


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About Michelle Shapiro

Michelle Shapiro is a communication specialist for the Environmental Health & Disability team at NACCHO.

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