Norovirus: Facts and Preventative Solutions

Quick Facts: 

  • 20 million people get sick from norovirus each year, most from close contact with infected people or by eating contaminated food
  • Norovirus is the leading cause of disease outbreaks from contaminated food in the US
  • Infected food workers cause about 70% of reported norovirus outbreaks from contaminated food


What is Norovirus?

It is a virus that can make you miserable for 1-3 days and is thought to be the most common cause of acute gastroenteritis, which causes diarrhea and vomiting.

“Noroviruses are sometimes called food poisoning, because they can be transmitted through food that’s been contaminated with the virus. They aren’t always the result of food contamination, though” (WebMD).

People can become infected when they eat or drink contaminated foods and beverages. Other foods related to outbreaks are raw or undercooked oysters and raw fruits and vegetables. WebMD further states that, “you can get infected if you touch an object or surface that has been infected with the virus and then touch your nose, mouth, or eyes”.

Ways to Prevent Norovirus

According to FDA model Food Code and CDC Guidelines, all food service workers should follow the following guidelines:

  • Stay home when sick — for at least 48 hours after symptoms stop
  • Wear gloves — wearing single-use gloves avoids touching food with bare hands and possible contamination
  • Wash your hands — wash thoroughly, and wash often!
  • Rinse fruits and vegetables
  • Clean and sanitize all surfaces and utensils — sanitizing regularly with chlorine-based product or other sanitizers approved by the Environmental Protection Agency has been approved for use against norovirus
  • Cook food, especially shellfish, thoroughly — 140 degrees F is considered undercooked; avoid serving undercooked oysters and other shellfish