The “Big 5” in food-safety parlance are norovirus, hepatitis A, Salmonella Typhi, Shigella and E. coli O157:H7 and its dangerous cousins, bugs that have high infectivity and can be easily transmitted to food by sick food servers.

Everyone working with food should know about the Big 5, and be aware of their responsibility to report symptoms, diagnosis, past illness and history of exposure, say the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Food and Drug Administration.

Beginning today, Aug. 19, the FDA has made available on its website new software to help food service and retail food store managers make the correct decision to prevent sick employees from working with food. 

Called the “Employee Health and Personal Hygiene Interactive Resource Disk,” the software includes several FDA documents, including the 2009 FDA Food Code, an Employee Health and Personal Hygiene Handbook, and education and training materials in several languages on employee health and hygiene.

The interactive tool uses a question and answer format as a checklist for symptoms associated with the Big 5 pathogens, including vomiting, diarrhea, jaundice, sore throat and fever. Food-service managers can use the tool to decide whether to send home an employee, when to allow an employee to return to work or whether to  notify a regulatory authority.  

Not intended to be used to diagnose foodborne disease, the disk is meant to simply provide information needed to prevent sick food employees from transmitting a foodborne disease.

For more information and to download the tool, visit: