FOOD SAFETY & HYGIENE

Maintain food safety standards to avoid norovirus outbreaks, warn experts

By Daniel Woolfson

- Last updated on GMT

Norovirus can cause vomiting and diarrhoea for those afflicted
Norovirus can cause vomiting and diarrhoea for those afflicted

Related tags: Gastroenteritis

Maintaining high standards when it comes to food safety and ensuring staff are trained properly is the best way to avoid outbreaks of norovirus, experts have claimed.

Businesses that let food standards slip are opening themselves up to increased vulnerability, Stuart Kelly, managing director of Acoura Consulting told the Publican’s Morning Advertiser. ​ 

“Even the best managed food businesses can be affected by an outbreak, which can often be caused not by the business, but by a customer being ill on the premises,” he warned.

The advice comes after 60 customers were taken ill with the bug​, which causes vomiting and diarrhoea, at Kettering pub Hobsons Choice last month.

Contaminated

The virus – estimated to affect more than 3 million Brits every year - can be transmitted by infected people, via contaminated food and drink or even by touching a contaminated surface.

It is imperative, Kelly said, that businesses affected with an outbreak act quickly to limit damage and avoid tarnishing their reputation.

He recommended creating an outbreak control team of key personnel, including cleaners, supervisors and staff, designating one person to co-ordinate an action plan.

“All staff should be trained to immediately notify management of any instances of sickness or diarrhoea in public rooms and public areas, or about general comments made by residents or guests feeling ill.”

Chemicals

Keeping a stock of chemicals, such as sodium hypochlorite bleach, to clean up incidents of vomiting and diarrhoea was fundamental, he said.

Dr Lisa Ackerley, strategic adviser to Acoura, added: “Being prepared for the eventuality of a norovirus outbreak is key, because the faster you react to an incident, the more chance of success you will have to stop the spread of this disease.

“While a customer may have started a norovirus incident, if a business has not acted appropriately to protect staff or customers, this could be seen to be a breach of health and safety legislation.”

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