Board of Health - Regulatory Employee Health Requirements for Food Service Employees Posting
Board of Health Explains Regulatory Employee Health Requirements for Food Service Employees
By Marlene Johnson, Health Agent
Every four years, the U. S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) publishes model food safety rules, known as the Food Code, which is designed to assist governments by providing them with a scientifically sound basis for regulating retail food industries. In October 2018, Massachusetts adopted the 2013 FDA Food Code. The updated Food Code gives Board of Health inspectors the ability to enforce stricter requirements regarding employee health.
Food employees are required to report certain illness to their supervisor. An employee must report to their supervisor if they are exhibiting symptoms of vomiting; diarrhea; jaundice; sore throat with a fever; and, lesions containing pus on the hand, wrist or an exposed body part. Food employees are also required to inform their supervisor if they were diagnosed with any illness that could be transmitted through food, such as norovirus, salmonella, or hepatitis A. An employee with these symptoms and/or diagnoses could transmit their illness through food and cause a foodborne illness outbreak. If an employee has an infected wound it must be covered with a bandage. A rash, such as psoriasis or eczema does not need to be covered.
Employees with any of the symptoms discussed above will not be allowed to report to work until symptoms are gone. If a food service employee visits their doctor and it is suspected that they may have a communicable disease, it is likely that laboratory testing will be conducted. In Massachusetts, reporting of communicable and infectious diseases is required under state regulations. These regulations require that health care providers and laboratories report communicable diseases to the local Board of Health in which the patient is residing. If laboratory results indicate that a food service worker has a communicable disease that can be transmitted through food, such as salmonella or norovirus, the Board of Health will issue an order to the food establishment where the employee works informing them of the diagnosis and that the employee can’t return to work until the Board of Health receives laboratory results indicating that the employee is no longer contagious.
During routine food inspections the Health Inspector will ask the food establishment to provide evidence that food employees were trained on the importance of not reporting to work when sick and informed of the requirement that they must report certain illness symptoms and/or diagnoses to their supervisor. If evidence is not provided, the establishment is considered out of compliance. The Health Inspector will issue a citation and the establishment must correct the violation within10 days. The Board of Health will follow up with a re-inspection to ensure compliance. The Board of Health will work with the food service establishment to make sure everyone understands the importance of not reporting to work when sick to prevent the spread the illness.