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7 Steps to avoid the Winter Vomiting Bug

GH-Training Solutions

7 Steps to avoid the Winter Vomiting Bug

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As the clocks go back and shops are filled with tasty treats and all things sparkly for Christmas, for those of us in the food service industry, we need to remember the threat of Norovirus, which due to its prevalence in Winter, is also called the ‘Winter vomiting bug’.

I remember (not so fondly) my days of working on cruise ships, trying to contain yet another large scale outbreak of Norovirus.  But even ashore, there is still the threat from Norovirus amongst your colleagues or customers.

What is Norovirus

Norovirus is a “low-dose” organism which means that as few as 10 virus particles are required to make a person ill, causing an attack of acute gastroenteritis.

Symptoms last for 24 – 48 hours and some infected people can still pass on the virus for up to 2 weeks after their symptoms have stopped, although for most it is the 48 hours after symptoms have stopped.

Whilst most cases of Norovirus are transmitted from person to person, either directly or by hand contact points, it can also spread through food, in particular fresh produce and seafood or through infected food handlers.

Whilst fatality rates are low, the speed of spread and acuteness of symptoms makes this a high-impact threat which needs to be managed.

(If you can stomach it, watch this ‘Operation Ouch’ video demonstrating how far projectile vomit can spread

7 steps to help you stay clear of Norovirus this Winter

  1. Effective hand washing is the most effective preventative measure you can take. This means at least 30 seconds of scrubbing, not just a quick splash.
  2. If a member of staff develops symptoms whilst at work, send them home immediately.
  3. Remember the 48 hour rule; keep food handlers away for a further 48 hours after their symptoms have stopped. Read the FSA guidance on food handlers ‘fitness to work’.
  4. Ensure all hand contact surfaces are properly cleaned and disinfected. Not all disinfectants work on Norovirus, so check with your supplier for an appropriate disinfectant.
  5. Ensure salads, vegetables and fruit are washed thoroughly
  6. Ensure shellfish comes from a reputable supplier and is cooked thoroughly
  7. Make sure you have a contingency plan in place so you know how to handle the situation should you have an outbreak despite taking these precautions.

I do hope you and your business avoid the Norovirus this Winter.  If you need any help with staff training or food safety procedures and best practice, please do contact me.

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