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Factors Associated with Food Workers Working while Experiencing Vomiting or Diarrhea

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This study sought to determine the frequency with which food workers said they had worked while experiencing vomiting or diarrhea, and to identify restaurant and worker characteristics associated with this behavior. We conducted interviews with food workers (n = 491) and their managers (n = 387) in the nine states that participate in the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Environmental Health Specialists Network. Restaurant and worker characteristics associated with repeatedly working while experiencing vomiting or diarrhea were analyzed via multivariable regression. Fifty-eight (11.9%) workers said they had worked while suffering vomiting or diarrhea on two or more shifts in the previous year. Factors associated with workers having worked while experiencing vomiting or diarrhea were (i) high volume of meals served, (ii) lack of policies requiring workers to report illness to managers, (iii) lack of on-call workers, (iv) lack of manager experience, and (v) workers of the male gender. Our findings suggest that policies that encourage workers to tell managers when they are ill and that help mitigate pressures to work while ill could reduce the number of food workers who work while experiencing vomiting or diarrhea.

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: 1: Duke University Hospital, Medical Research, Room 8254DN, 2301 Erwin Road, Durham, North Carolina 27710, USA 2: National Center for Environmental Health, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, MS F60, 4770 Buford Highway, Atlanta, Georgia 30341, USA. 3: California Department of Public Health, Food and Drug Branch, 850 Marina Bay Parkway, Building P, First Floor, Richmond, California 94808, USA 4: Iowa Department of Public Health, Bureau of Environmental Health Services, 321 East 12th Street, Des Moines, Iowa 50319, USA 5: Tennessee Department of Health, 425 Fifth Avenue N., Cordell Hull, First Floor, Nashville, Tennessee 37243, USA 6: Connecticut Department of Public Health, Food Protection Program, Division of Environmental Health, MS No. 51 FDP, 410 Capitol Avenue, P.O. Box 340308, Hartford, Connecticut 06134-0308, USA 7: New York State Department of Health, Bureau of Community Environmental Health and Food Protection, 547 River Street, Flannigan Square, Room 515, Troy, New York 12180, USA 8: Wisconsin Department of Health Services, 1 West Wilson Street, Madison, Wisconsin 53702 9: Office of Food Protection, Rhode Island Department of Health, 3 Capitol Hill, Providence, Rhode Island 02908, USA 10: Department of Human Resources, Georgia Division of Public Health, 2 Peachtree Street N.W., 14th Floor, Atlanta, Georgia 30303, USA 11: Acute Disease Investigation and Control, Minnesota Department of Health, 625 Robert Street N., P.O. Box 64975, St. Paul, Minnesota 55164, USA

Publication date: February 1, 2011

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    The Journal of Food Protection (JFP) is a refereed monthly publication. Each issue contains scientific research and authoritative review articles reporting on a variety of topics in food science pertaining to food safety and quality. The Journal is internationally recognized as the leading publication in the field of food microbiology with a readership exceeding 11,000 scientists from 70 countries. The Journal of Food Protection is indexed in Index Medicus, Current Contents, BIOSIS, PubMed, Medline, and many others.

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