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Definition of a Risk Factor

FDA inspection report

What are Foodborne Illness Risk Factors and Public Health Interventions?

From the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Model Food Code, epidemiological outbreak data repeatedly identify five major risk factors related to employee behaviors and preparation practices in retail and food service establishments as contributing to foodborne illness:

  • Improper holding temperatures,
  • Inadequate cooking, such as undercooking raw shell eggs,
  • Contaminated equipment,
  • Food from unsafe sources, and
  • Poor personal hygiene.
The FDA Model Food Code also establishes five key public health interventions to protect consumer health:
  • Demonstration of knowledge,
  • Employee health controls,
  • Controlling hands as a vehicle of contamination,
  • Time and temperature parameters for controlling pathogens, and
  • Consumer advisory.

Together these ten items, along with some other interventions, are prominent on the FDA Model Food Code Food Establishment Inspection Report. The prominence is meant to emphasize the attentions and actions of food establishment operators and inspectors to focus on those items that are most commonly associated with foodborne illness. Maintaining these items in compliance every day should have the greatest impact on consumer health by reducing foodborne illness in our community.