Raw oyster norovirus outbreak, Restaurant Revitalization Fund, Risk Factor Study, Statewide hospitality fee explained

food digest food safety for food handlers

April 8, 2022

In this issue

Oysters from British Columbia linked to multi-state norovirus outbreak


Health officials are warning restaurants and retailers to not serve or sell raw oysters harvested from a specific bay in British Columbia, Canada, after linking norovirus illnesses to these oysters. Consumers should not eat these potentially contaminated raw oysters.

The Minnesota Department of Health, Hennepin County Public Health, and the Minnesota Department of Agriculture are working with federal officials, public health agencies in other states and Canada to investigate a norovirus outbreak linked to these raw oysters. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) confirmed potentially contaminated raw oysters harvested in the south and central parts of Baynes Sound, British Columbia, Canada, were distributed to restaurants and retailers in 13 states, including Minnesota.

Check shellstock tags

While some parts of the harvest area have been closed, it’s likely oysters from this area are still in the marketplace. With that in mind, officials are urging restaurants and distributors to check shellstock tags and discard associated oysters.

Consumers can ask oyster suppliers or restaurants to check the shellstock tag for the harvest location. Norovirus and other pathogens found in raw oysters can be destroyed by cooking to 145 degrees Fahrenheit before eating.


Symptoms of norovirus typically include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, or stomach cramps that begin 12 to 48 hours after ingestion of the virus. There is currently a high level of norovirus illness activity in Minnesota, and most is not associated with eating oysters.

“People with norovirus can spread it to others even after symptoms stop,” MDH Epidemiologist Supervisor Senior Carlota Medus said. “The best way to limit spread is to wash your hands well with soap and water after using the bathroom and before preparing food for others.”

Oysters can cause illness if eaten raw, particularly in people with compromised immune systems. Food contaminated with norovirus may look, smell, and taste normal.

For more information...

Restaurant Revitalization Fund


Another opportunity to recoup capital lost during the COVID-19 pandemic of the last two years might be possible for restaurants soon. Congress and the Senate both recently constructed similar bills which would replenish the Restaurant Revitalization Fund. If passed, up to $42 billion dollars could be available to businesses who were unable to secure a portion of the $28 billion provided in 2021.

Last year’s fund was dispersed to about 105,000 companies with grants up to $10,000,000 and was depleted around three weeks after made available. The new resources would be awarded in a similar fashion and could be utilized for business expenses, construction expenses or debts. According to the National Restaurant Association approximately 177,000 restaurants applied for but did not receive a grant – approximately twenty percent of the industry.

Previous efforts to refill the fund have met opposition and fallen short; however this version appears to have bipartisan support from elder lawmakers. Congress passed a vote Thursday, April 7, 2022, and the bill’s fate now awaits results in the Senate. Lawmakers say they include new transparency requirements for the Small Business Administration and greater auditing requirements to prevent fraud which allegedly consumed a large portion of the previous payouts. Applications will be made through the Small Business Administration’s website.

Restaurant Revitalization Fund website

Restaurant Revitalization Fund overview

Risk factor study 2021


Did you know that each year approximately one in six Americans become ill from a foodborne-related illness? That’s around 48 million people: approximately 128,800 will need hospitalization and around 3,000 will die as a result of a foodborne illness. (Foodborne Germs and Illnesses | CDC).

Hennepin County is home to more residents than any other county in our state with 1,267,416 residents as of the 2021 Census (U.S. Census Bureau QuickFacts: Hennepin County, Minnesota). That’s a lot of mouths to feed. Our vast population provides an expansive food industry with abundant diversity. Having many culinary options provides opportunities to engage and support our community businesses, but it can unfortunately also increase our chances of contracting a foodborne illness. Have no fear, there are actions we can take to decrease our chances of illness while enjoying the many great food service establishments in our county.  

This past year our department took part in the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Voluntary National Retail Food Regulatory Program Standards as part of FDA’s Standard 9 Program Assessment. Our department reviewed 2021 routine food inspection reports and compared them to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) top five risk factors associated with foodborne illness:

  1. Poor personal hygiene
  2. Improper holding times and temperatures
  3. Contaminated equipment/protection from contamination
  4. Inadequate cooking temperatures
  5. Food from unsafe sources

After reviewing our routine food inspection reports we determined which areas were most commonly out of compliance and which aligned with the top five risk factors. With this data we can determine areas for improvement to prevent foodborne illness.

On the inspector end, we will hold additional training for violations associated with foodborne illness. Inspectors will increase their focus on these areas during inspections and provide resources for operators to help with knowledge, demonstration, and supervision of requirements to be in place in food operations.

We encourage you to look into and increase your focus on these areas as well. Feel free to reach out to your inspector with any questions. Implement new policies and procedures for training staff and oversee that requirements are met and risk factors are identified and eliminated. Check out these helpful links for further information and checklists:

Management Checklist

Food Service Daily Checklist

Daily Temperature Log

Employee Illness Log

Cleanup Plan for Vomit & Diarrhea

When to Call the Health Department

Time as a Public Health Control

Food Business Fact Sheets

Specialized Processes (Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point and Variances)

Estimates of Foodborne Illness in the United States

Statewide hospitality fee – what is this?

If you own a restaurant, food truck, or other food business, have you recently received a letter from the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) requiring you to pay a $40 fee? This is called the statewide hospitality fee and it has been collected from all food, beverage and lodging establishments in Minnesota since 2005. The fee funds statewide food, beverage and lodging program development.

The law requires the Minnesota Department of Health to collect a $40 fee each year from every food, beverage and lodging establishment in the state.

"Every person, firm, or corporation that operates a licensed boarding establishment, food and beverage service establishment, seasonal temporary or permanent food stand, special event food stand, mobile food unit, food cart, resort, hotel, motel, or lodging establishment in Minnesota must submit to the commissioner a $40 annual statewide hospitality fee for each licensed activity. The fee for establishments licensed by the Department of Health is required at the same time the licensure fee is due. For establishments licensed by local governments, the fee is due by July 1 of each year."

How money is used

MDH uses the money collected to ensure a safe and secure hospitality industry by:

  • Training state and local agency inspection staff.
  • Providing technical assistance to local agencies.
  • Maintaining a statewide food safety notification system.

Example activities include:

  • Ensuring consistency among inspectors through FDA standardization.
  • Providing code interpretations and regular program updates to MDH and locally delegated food, pools, and lodging services staff.
  • Developing and sharing publications and a website to promote consistent regulation.
  • Promoting uniformity and performance standards through training and outreach such as new employee food code training and the Food Safety Partnership of Minnesota.
  • Evaluating food, pools and lodging program performance.
  • Rulemaking and record keeping.
  • Maintaining the MIR3 food and beverage establishment database.

Web resources

Visit hennepin.us/envhealth for information on:

  • General environmental health 
  • Basic food safety classes 
  • Temporary food stand licensing 
  • Food license information, categories, and fee schedule 
  • New construction or remodeling application 

Radon information and test kits


Septic system requirements and procedures


Body art licensing information (tattooing and piercing)


Beaches in Hennepin County


Public swimming pool regulations


About us

Food Digest is a quarterly newsletter written by inspectors from Hennepin
County Public Health Department and is designed to support and educate Hennepin County food facility owners and operators. Articles focus on food
safety and requirements from the Minnesota Food Code and Hennepin County food ordinance.


1011 First Street S, Suite 215
Hopkins, MN 55343-9413

8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.


Past issues

Previous issues of Food digest available in our archive.

Food digest feedback

Hannah Marschinke


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