MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Chipotle now says a sick employee at one of its Massachusetts restaurants could have led to 80 people coming down with norovirus. The illness, which causes diarrhea and vomiting, is highly contagious and can be spread by improper hygiene.

So, what are the food safety rules for restaurants? Good Question.

In the kitchen of the Galleria’s Pittsburgh Blue is a detailed list. Manager Todd Bolton goes through it twice a day.

“They’re wanting to make sure everything is stored properly, being held at the correct temperature,” he said. “That the hand-washing sinks are fully stocked.”

Within Minnesota’s 143-page food code, there’s a section on hand washing. It says an employee shall clean hands after using the bathroom, coughing or sneezing, and touching other body parts, soiled equipment or raw foods. It also requires a special hand-washing sink.

So how do you encourage continuous hand washing?

“That falls on the shoulders of the managers,” Bolton said. “And they have to be aware and keep their eyes open.”

Gloves are not required at all times, but the state encourages limiting direct hand contact with food that’s ready to eat.

State code says one person per restaurant must be certified in food safety, but Parasole Restaurants — of which Galleria Pittsburgh Blue is a part — go beyond that.

“At any given time, we have four, six, eight people that have gone through that training,” Bolton said.

Bolton says restaurants are required to exclude any employees from work if they’re showing stomach-related symptoms. They also have to document any of those cases. But how do you make sure those employees stay home?

“Well, it’s tough,” Bolton said. “But, at some point, you have to draw and line and them they can’t. … We stress over and over how important it is. It’s one of those things that you screw up once and you could be out of business. That’s a point we try to make.”

The food code goes into much more detail about everything like cooling and heating the foods, what type of equipment can be used, and how it should all be stored.

And, to offer some perspective, last year, there were 35 confirmed outbreaks of norovirus in Minnesota restaurants.

Heather Brown

Comments