Foodborne illness affects 48 million Americans annually with the majority of reported foodborne outbreaks due to food prepared and served by restaurants. Food safety practices at restaurants are verified via periodic inspections by health department personnel. With millions of such inspections conducted every year, concentrating on the most frequently identified risk factors could focus interventions where they will have the most impact. This would be particularly beneficial for restaurant chains with establishments across the country. Compared in this study were recent health department inspections in Minnesota and Arizona that had been performed at restaurants known to have had confirmed outbreaks to matched control restaurants that did not have outbreaks during the same time period.
No overall relationship to foodborne illness risk factors was demonstrated. However, a set of violations more likely to be associated with outbreak restaurants was identified. These violations likely represented a lack of overall control of food safety processes in the outbreak restaurants. There were differences in the specific violations identified between the two states, most likely attributable to the high variability in inspection approaches among different health department jurisdictions. The results highlight the need for a more consistent, nationwide approach to restaurant inspections than exists currently and suggest several approaches to improve the use of inspection data to reduce foodborne illness rates.
University of Minnesota Ph.D. dissertation. May 2012. Major: Environmental Health. Advisor: Craig W. Hedberg. 1 computer file (PDF); ix, 160 pages, appendix 1.
Petran, Ruth Lindenthal.
Application of restaurant inspection data analysis to increase assurance of food safety..
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