January 21, 2014 5:18 am
Food poisoning is possible at any type of restaurant.
Food poisoning strikes about 48 million people in the United States each year, and nearly half of recent foodborne illness outbreaks were caused by food consumed in a restaurant. Just 21 percent were caused by food consumed in a private home, according to the Centers for Disease Control.
It doesn't matter how fancy a restaurant is; if the staff doesn't follow good restaurant food safety practices, there is a risk for food poisoning. "You can get foodborne illness from any type of restaurant—from the lowest level of the mom-and-pop all the way to the fine dining restaurant," says Ben Vaughn, host of Food Network’s Health Inspectors.
Dining out, but staying in control
While most diners do not have the behind-the-scenes access that Vaughn does, anyone can be a "smart foodie." "Just because you're dining out doesn't mean you're not in control," he says.
Tip: Scope the scene.
The first thing a diner should do upon entering a restaurant is take a close look at the public areas. The cleanliness and orderliness of a restaurant can be an indicator of what's going on behind the kitchen door, according to Vaughn.
Tip: Order fresh, order smart.
Smart ordering can help lower the risk of food poisoning, Vaughn says. "Be regionally respectful," he recommends. "The farther food has to travel to reach your plate, the higher the risk it has been improperly handled somewhere along the way. Look for ingredients that don't belong in that area and don't order them."
Tip: Review the health inspection report.
Restaurants are required to post their health inspection reports, or make them available upon request. "Health inspection scores should be posted at the front door. If you don't see a health inspection or you don't see a current health inspection, ask," Vaughn says.
Source: Be Smart Be Well
Published with permission from RISMedia.