7 TIPS TO EAT SAFE OUTSIDE YOUR HOME
Dining out puts you at risk of foodborne illnesses, especially when you’re not careful. While most restaurants are required to follow strict regulations when it comes to food handling, preparation, and serving, that is not always guaranteed. Being vigilant when eating out helps ensure that you avoid getting sick when you eat out. Below are a couple of tips you can follow to ensure a safe eating out experience.
Always check inspection scores
Before deciding to dine at a restaurant, you should always check its inspection scores. Authorities regularly conduct inspections at dining establishments to ensure they are following protocol when it comes to safe food handling. The scores are published at the health department’s site. It’s also possible to look for the place’s inspection scores inside the establishment itself.
Look for certificates
You should also be looking for certificates that say kitchen managers have undergone and completed food safety training. Going through this type of program teaches kitchen staff on proper food handling and preparation in order to stop the spread of foodborne bacteria and prevent illnesses to customers.
Choose properly cooked food
When it comes to ordering, you should choose menu items that were properly cooked. Meat, fish, and poultry need to be cooked at a certain temperature to ensure that all the harmful bacteria are killed. If you are served undercooked food, you should send it back to be cooked properly to ensure it is safe to eat.
Don’t eat lukewarm food
Keep in mind that hot food should always be served hot and cold food should always be served cold. If you are served lukewarm food, send it back to be cooked properly or reheated. If choosing food from a salad bar or a buffet, make sure hot food is steaming and cold food is chilled. Bacteria that cause food poisoning thrive at room temperature. This “danger zone” is between 40 to 140 degrees Fahrenheit.
Carry a hand sanitizer
One thing everyone should practice is carrying a hand sanitizer around. Although the recommended method for hand sanitizing is always hand washing, you don’t always have access to a sink and soap. The most effective hand sanitizers you should be carrying around are the antibacterial gel hand sanitizers but 70% or higher alcohol could also be used. Use this before eating.
Bring your own utensils
Another thing people should start practicing when dining out is to bring their own utensils. Not all restaurants follow proper sanitation protocols especially in utensils that other people use. It’s best that you bring a compact set yourself and use it when necessary. It’s also a more environmentally-friendly approach when dining at places that serve plastic spoons and forks. Make sure to clean your utensils regularly and store them in a closed container to avoid contamination.
Wipe the table down
You can’t always be sure that tables are sanitized properly after each use. Although restaurants are required to do so, you can also do a quick wipe down of the table using sanitary wipes. Include the edges of the table and any place that the previous diners might have touched, like the back of the chairs.
It always pays to be extra cautious especially in these difficult times. You never know what you might contract from public places, whether it is a high-end restaurant or your regular local restaurant. It’s better to be safe than sorry.