Why are food services a concern?
Food services include restaurants, delis, and companies that prepare food for others. Food service workers and the people they serve may be exposed to chemicals used in food processing, cooking, or storage or used in operating a facility. Basic food safety issues are also very important for public health.
Chemicals that may be used in maintaining a restaurant include bleach, household chemicals, and pesticides. Food service operations may use natural gas or propane as cooking fuels. Food processors may use sulfur dioxide as a food preservative for fruits and vegetables or use food packaging that contains phthalates.
Observing basic food safety and meeting health department standards are very important in preventing the spread of infectious diseases. Workers need to follow good personal hygiene such as handwashing and not working when sick. Proper handling of food is also critical. Food handling safety issues include exposure to or eating raw or undercooked foods, including raw shellfish that may be contaminated. Prepared food that has not been refrigerated for more than two hours may pose health risks. All food needs to be maintained at the proper cold or hot temperature and kitchen surfaces kept clean.
If smoking is allowed in a restaurant, exposure to second-hand smoke is a health issue for workers and customers.
This description is based on the information found in the Web links listed with this topic.
Web Links from MedlinePlus (National Library of Medicine)
Restaurant Safety (California State Compensation Insurance Fund)
Waitstaff Health and Safety (Texas Department of Insurance) (PDF — 181.94 KB)
Working Safely in Restaurants. Factsheet (Connecticut Department of Public Health) (PDF — 327 KB)
Young Worker Safety in Restaurants ETool (Occupational Safety and Health Administration)
Chemicals and Food Services
Are these chemicals in MY community?
Bisphenol A (BPA)
Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons (PAHs)
Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC)
Last Updated: November 25, 2013