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New research on preventing the spread of norovirus

12 July 2017

The Food Standards Agency (FSA) has published research carried out by Ipsos MORI, called Food handlers and norovirus transmission: Social science insights. The study aimed to help stop the 'winter vomiting bug' norovirus from spreading, by understanding and improving food handler behaviours.

The literature review identified five strategies for controlling norovirus. They were:

  1. Personal hygiene 
  2. Food handling
  3. Washing and cooking food
  4. Surface and uniform cleaning
  5. Fitness to work

Visits to food catering establishments involved in-depth interviews, surveys, and structured environmental and behavioural observations.

Strongest evidence was found for: 

  • inadequate hand washing; 
  • not washing hands before gloving; 
  • using bare hands when preparing food;
  • not regularly changing gloves; 
  • food handlers instead of trained staff cleaning areas where people vomited; 
  • not washing uniform correctly; 
  • and returning to work too early after being ill. 

Data analysis and behavioural theories were used to rank behaviours which risk spreading norovirus in relation to the control strategies, according to the strength of evidence that food handlers were expressing these behaviours. 

Several behavioural interventions were recommended based on the findings. Just as one example: strong evidence indicated inadequate knowledge of how to stop norovirus spreading, so educational training for food handlers was highly recommended. FSA is exploring the design and delivery of future interventions.

Read the report by clicking here.

 
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