Around 1 in 6 Americans get sick from foodborne diseases every year in the United States, while 128,000 are hospitalized, and 3,000 pass away, data from the CDC reveals. Food safety should be at the forefront of your mind everytime you go out to eat. By taking a number of simple precautions, you can enjoy eating at your favorite restaurants, while minimizing your risk of food poisoning.
Check your food’s cooked properly
Defined by the USDA, the temperature danger zone (between 40–140°F) refers to the temperature range in which harmful bacteria grows and thrives. In fact, it only takes twenty minutes for bacteria to double in the danger zone. It’s therefore essential to make sure certain dishes have been cooked correctly. Foods, such as, poultry, meat, seafood, and eggs, need to be cooked at high temperatures to ensure bad germs and bacteria are killed. So, if your meal arrives at your table lukewarm and undercooked, send it back – never settle for undercooked food.
Keep an eye out for pests
Nothing will have you walking out of a restaurant faster than pests. And, for good reason: common pests like rodents, cockroaches, and termites can spread bad bacteria and disease. Specifically, 81% of patrons say they’ll never return to a restaurant if they see a pest in their food, while 76% will never return if they see multiple pests on the premises. Nevertheless, pests are a significant problem for restaurants in the U.S., with 50% of patrons reporting pest sightings at a restaurant in the past twelve months. It’s therefore important to make sure you only eat at hygienic, pest-free establishments. In fact, pest control makes up 20% of a restaurant’s health inspection score, so, if your chosen restaurant has a good score, you likely won’t have to be concerned about pests. Workers should regularly clean front-of-house space, including, tables, chairs, and condiments, as well as promptly wipe crumbs and spills.
Order low-risk dishes
Chickens can carry Salmonella bacteria, which often also spreads to their eggs. And, unless eggs have been pasteurized to kill off bacteria, they may make you sick. So, be sure to ask your server if the restaurant uses pasteurized eggs. Remember, eggs are used as ingredients in a host of recipes, including hollandaise sauce, Caesar salad dressing, custard, and tiramisu. Also, keep in mind, some people are at a higher risk of severe food poisoning – namely, adults 65+, children under 5, pregnant women, and those with weakened immune systems (including, people with cancer, diabetes, and kidney disease). So, if you’re at a higher risk of food poisoning, take care to avoid foods like raw milk and juices, soft cheese (unless pasteurized), raw sprouts and undercooked or raw meat or seafood.
Food safety is essential for avoiding germs and food poisoning. By ensuring your food’s hot, keeping an eye out for pests, and ordering the right dishes, you can enjoy eating out with greater peace of mind.