Food Safety Scan for Dec 02, 2013

Oregon food safety expert dies
Sick food workers

William Keene, Oregon's top food safety expert, dies unexpectedly

Oregon's senior state epidemiologist, William Keene, PhD, MPH, died yesterday at the age of 56 after a 2-week hospitalization for acute pancreatitis, according to a story in The Oregonian.

He was a passionate sleuth of foodborne disease outbreaks in the area and, notes a Food Safety News (FSN) article, "kept the Oregon Public Health Division at the top of a short list of states known for being able to quickly solve outbreaks of foodborne disease."

A native of Seattle, Keene attended Yale University as an undergraduate and Johns Hopkins and the University of California at Berkeley as a graduate student, where he earned a master's degree in public health and a doctorate in microbiology. Notes the FSN article, he had worked as "Oregon's top food detective" since his 1989 graduation.

His license plate read "O157:H7," the name of the deadly Escherichia coli strain often responsible for foodborne disease outbreaks.
Dec 1 Oregonian article
Dec 2 FSN story
May 6, 2010, Oregonian profile of Keene


Study: 60% of restaurant workers have taken shifts while ill

About 60% of US food workers surveyed had worked while ill, and 20% had worked while sick with vomiting or diarrhea in the previous year, according to a survey released yesterday in the Journal of Food Protection.

Public health officials from various states and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention conducted workplace interviews with 491 food workers from 391 randomly selected restaurants in nine states.

Fully 292 (59.5%) said they had worked while ill. Of those, 89% said it was their own decision to work while sick, but 7% said it was solely a management decision, and 3% said it was a joint employee-management call.

The top reasons cited for working while ill were (1) lack of paid sick leave, 43%; (2) understaffing, 32%; (3) the employee did not feel poorly enough or thought the illness was not contagious, 31%; and (4) employee felt obligated, 30%.

In addition, 97 of 487 respondents (19.9%) said they had worked while sick with vomiting or diarrhea in the previous year, and 61% of them had done so on two or more shifts.

The authors recommend policies and practices that encourage restaurant workers to stay home while sick, including training for managers.
Dec 1 J Food Prot abstract

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