DENVER (KDVR) — A new report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the National Environmental Assessment Reporting System shows many foodborne illness outbreaks at restaurants involved sick workers.
The report looked at data from 800 foodborne illness outbreaks in 25 states, including Colorado. It found four in 10 outbreaks with an identified cause were linked to sick workers, and only one in six restaurants with outbreaks have a detailed policy to prevent contamination.
While the report was just released on Tuesday, the data is from 2017-2019, before the pandemic.
“The world is obviously a very different place now,” said Colin Larson, the director of government affairs with the Colorado Restaurant Association.
Larson, who was also a former coffee shop owner, said, “We have a ton of protocols in place. Managers are trained on this to respond to people who show up to work who are displaying outward symptoms, to send them home.”
He adds, “Right now if you go to a restaurant, this is the safest time to go out there and eat because it’s been at the forefront of the public’s mind. I mean people aren’t going to go to places where a server has a runny nose anymore.”
The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment said it already took steps to update regulations and those include requirements for sick worker policies.
Over 25,000 inspections are conducted annually and the agency said compliance rates are high for employee illness policies.
Plus, in Colorado restaurants are already required to provide employees paid sick leave.
A CDC representative sent FOX31 a statement saying in part:
Restaurant owners and managers are in the ideal position to prevent sick workers from working and transmitting illness. Developing and enforcing sick worker policies can help protect the public as well as other food workers. It’s important for restaurants to develop and enforce policies that require workers with certain symptoms to 1) notify their manager, and 2) stay home or not work with food. Those symptoms include vomiting, diarrhea, jaundice, sore throat with fever, and a lesion with pus.”
If you believe you became sick after eating at a restaurant, you can report it to CDPHE.