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U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

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Questions and Answers on the 2009 H1N1 Flu Virus and the Food Industry

Q: What are the FDA’s requirements and recommendations for the food industry regarding workers who are sick?

Current Good Manufacturing Practice Requirements: 

Long-standing federal regulations require that any person who is shown to have, or appears to have, an illness by which there is a reasonable possibility of food, food-contact surfaces, or food-packaging materials becoming contaminated must be excluded from any operations that may be expected to result in such contamination until the health condition is corrected.  Plant management must take all reasonable measures and precautions to ensure this.

The regulations also require that food facility managers instruct personnel to report illnesses to their supervisors.

These regulations are contained in the Current Good Manufacturing Practice in Manufacturing, Packing, or Holding Human Food, in Part 110.10 of Title 21 of the U.S. Code of Federal Regulations:   http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/waisidx_08/21cfr110_08.html.

For Food Retailers, Restaurants and Food Service Operations

The FDA Food Code provides model regulations for reducing risk factors known to cause foodborne illness at retail food facilities, restaurants and other food-service operations.

Most state and local authorities have adopted Food Code provisions as regulatory requirements.  In addition to several other restrictions applicable to food employees experiencing certain symptoms of illness, the Food Code stipulates that employees experiencing persistent sneezing, coughing or a runny nose that causes discharges from the eyes, nose or mouth may not work with exposed food, clean equipment, utensils, linens, or unwrapped single-service or single-use articles.