Risk Factor Studies

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has identified five major risk factors associated with foodborne illness. These are:

  • Food from unsafe sources
  • Inadequate cooking
  • Improper holding/time and temperature
  • Contaminated equipment/prevention of contamination
  • Poor personal hygiene

During risk factor evaluations, data collectors evaluate specific food preparation practices and individual employee behaviors that link to each risk factor category. Wake County uses these results to gauge compliance with each risk factor, and to develop interventions that make the most impact over time.

In 2021, Wake County Division of Environmental Health & Safety (EH&S) completed its third risk factor study of 465 randomly selected food establishment, following risk factor studies in 2010 and 2015. Data across years have been standardized for accurate comparison.  By tracking risk factors over a ten-year period, the division demonstrated the effectiveness of rule changes and intervention strategies during this timeframe. The results show significant overall improvement but highlight areas that need continued focus.

Risk Factors in Compliance 2010 Avg 2015 Avg 2020 Avg
Food Source 95% 96% 98%
Inadequate Cooking 91% 94% 95%
Improper Holding 57% 65% 75%
Contamination 87% 88% 86%
Personal Hygiene (*12a and 14a compared) 82% 90% 92%
Other Items of Interest:      
Certified Food Protection Manager Present 42% 72% 64%
Employee Health Policy (17a only) 10% 17% 66%
Food Allergy Awareness - - 18%

Wake County’s active participation in the FDA Voluntary National Retail Program Standards has served as a key driver to the division’s success at supporting the restaurant industry to protect public health.

See most recent Risk Factor Study for 2020 by clicking the year: