Conduct a health check of all household members before you start to prevent foodborne illness
Minnesota experienced its first foodborne illness outbreak associated with cottage food products. The culprit was Norovirus. Norovirus is the leading cause of foodborne illnesses
and is responsible for more than 50% of all food-related outbreaks. Symptoms appear 12-48 after exposure and may include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and abdominal cramps, lasting 1-3 days.
Norovirus is highly contagious and found in stool or vomit of infected people. It can spread if feces or vomit from an infected person gets in your mouth. This can happen through person-to-person contact with an infected person, by touching infected surfaces such as doors, toilets and faucet handles or eating food handled by the infected person.
Norovirus is a hardy virus and survives on contaminated surfaces for 2 weeks. Cleaning and decontaminating surfaces is critical to remove and destroy the virus. It is also very resistant to routine cleaning and sanitizers.
Health and hygiene is the most important link to prevent a foodborne illness via hand-to-food contamination. Conduct a health check of everyone living in your household before you prepare, package or sell cottage foods. The Minnesota Department of Agriculture advises to wait 72 hours after you or a household member have recovered from vomiting or diarrhea to prepare, package or sell cottage foods. In foodservice facilities, employees ill with vomiting and/or diarrhea are excluded from the facility and sent home to recover. With cottage foods, your facility is your home and that is where you recover from illness.
If you or someone in your household does experience vomiting and/or diarrhea. Drops of vomit or feces can splatter many feet in all directions. So it is critical to clean up the vomit or poop and surrounding surfaces.
Cleaning and decontaminating surfaces is critical to remove and destroy the virus. To stop the spread of Norovirus, the CDC (Centers for Disease Control) recommends using either chlorine unscented bleach or EPA (Environmental Protection Agency)
egistered antimicrobial products effective against Norovirus
. Product label must specify it is effective against Norovirus. Examples include: Clorox© health care products and Comet Disinfecting Cleaner with Bleach, available online or at restaurant supply stores. For details, read our
Norovirus: step-by-step cleanup of vomit and diarrhea
It can take 2 weeks to rid norovirus completely from the body. When you resume cottage food production be sure to:
- Wash hands well and often.
- Do not touch ready-to-eat food or food contact surfaces with bare hands. Use gloves, tongs or spatulas to create a barrier between your hands and the food.
Remember, your health and hygiene is the most important link to prevent a foodborne illness via hand-to-food contamination.