The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has released a report on a study of foodborne illness risk factors in retail food store deli departments. Data for this study were collected between 2015–2016. The study is part of a 10-year initiative examining when foodborne illness risk factors occur, such as employees practicing poor personal hygiene, and also when food safety practices occur, like improper handwashing. The report also looked at the relationship of these to Food Safety Management Systems (FSMS) and Certified Food Protection Managers (CFPM). 

FDA observed that delis with well-thought out FSMS were more likely to properly control foodborne illness risk factors versus delis with less developed FSMS. Also, delis with a CFPM in charge have significantly better developed FSMS than delis that do not have a CFPM present or employed. 

Analysis of the study data showed that deli departments had the best control over:

  • Ensuring no bare-hand contact with ready-to-eat foods
  • Cooking raw animal foods to required temperatures

In contrast, the most common food safety behaviors and practices needing better control included:

  • Ensuring employees practiced proper handwashing
  • Holding foods requiring refrigeration at the proper temperature
  • Cooling foods properly

The study will also help inform FDA’s upcoming activities on modernizing traditional retail food safety approaches.