Header graphic for print

Food Safety News

Breaking news for everyone's consumption

Sick Subway Employees Worked During Norovirus Outbreak

Employees at an Indiana Subway restaurant went to work in January despite being sick with Norovirus, according to a health department investigation.

During a Norovirus outbreak in Blackford County that sickened 90 residents from January 5 through January 8 of this year, workers at a Hartford City Subway continued to report to their jobs despite displaying symptoms of Norovirus infection, including nausea, diarrhea and vomiting.

The fact that sick Subway workers had served customers during the outbreak was noted by the Blackford County Health Department in a report dated February 7, but this information was not revealed until Tuesday when the Muncie Star Press obtained a copy of the document, which concluded that “Subway was a contributing factor to the spread of Norovirus in Blackford County.”

Of the 90 known outbreak victims, 74 were questioned for this investigation. Of these people, 72 reported having eaten at Subway before becoming ill. Subway restaurant was the only common food source identified. Stool samples from 6 employees and 5 customers at the Subway location tested positive for Norovirus.

While the Blackford County Health Department announced in February that the outbreak was likely linked to Subway, it did not reveal that sick employees had worked during that time.

“Four Subway employees were sick with nausea, diarrhea and /or vomiting on Saturday, Jan. 7,” says the report. “Most employees self reported to co-workers that employees worked while sick.”

Indiana health code requires that food workers diagnosed with foodborne illnesses including Salmonella, E. coli, Shigella, Hepatitis A or Norovirus infections do not come to work. The code – adopted in 2000 and put into practice in 2008 – stipulates that food establishment employees must be familiar with foodborne illness symptoms such as diarrhea, vomiting, jaundice, sore throat and fever.

County health officials noted in February that they didn’t know how Norovirus had entered the restaurant, and that it may have come from a sick customer who spread the virus after failing to properly wash his or her hands after using the restroom.

Norovirus is transmitted through feces and causes infection when ingested by humans.

© Food Safety News
  • Ryan

    “Employees at an Indiana Subway restaurant went to work in January despite being sick with Norovirus, according to a health department investigation.”
    Minimum wage employers typically don’t give the employee any paid sick days, so they have no choice but to show up at work sick and make your food for you. Unless they want to be fired…
    “Indiana health code requires that food workers diagnosed with foodborne illnesses including Salmonella, E. coli, Shigella, Hepatitis A or Norovirus infections do not come to work. ”
    Minimum wage employers typically don’t have health insurance, and if they do it’s a farce. They probably couldn’t afford to go to the doctor. Would the law even protect their job if that’s why they couldn’t come to work?

    • KATHLEEN L TAYLOR

      this is not right and the employer should be sued if customers get sick from food prepared by employees they knew where sick! i guess money talks, so hit the employers in the pocket book where it hurts, then they will have to think twice about letting a sick employee work

  • Rebecca

    I agree with Ryan. Many times these employees are told by their supervisors they have to work their hours or lose their job. They have no paid sick leave, can barely make ends meet on their wages, have no health insurance or it cost so much, it’s either have insurance or not have a place to live or food to eat. Then it still hardly covers anything! I know this because, not only am I a registered sanitarian, I’m a mother who has had family members working in these places. This goes on all the time. These are the people who are trying to hold down a job and keep off the publice dole, but end up in emergency rooms and can’t pay those bills, either. And people wonder why we need an affordable health care act!

    • KATHLEEN L TAYLOR

      WHAT EVER HAPPENED TO COMMONSENSE? IF YOUR SICK WITH THESE ILLINESSES STAY HOME, HAVE SOME CONSIDERATION FOR OTHERS. DA. I AGREE MANDATORY SICK PAY FOR HEALTHCARE WORKERS AND FOODHANDLERS, THIS WILL CERTAINLEY STOP ALOT OF THIS.

  • Minkpuppy

    PAID sick leave should be a mandatory requirement for any business dealing with food. I see sick employees in the meat plants all the time. The plant nurse (IF they have one) just slaps a mask on them and sends them back to work. The meat inspection regulations state that sick workers aren’t allowed but unless they’re barfing on product we can’t order the plant to get the employee off the line. It’s aggravating as heck.