According to CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention), around 3,000 die, 48 million people get sick, and 128,000 are hospitalized from foodborne every year in the United States. So, food safety is very crucial. All restaurants are, of course, legally required to serve customers safe and suitable food. That said, there are still a number of simple yet effective measures you can take to reduce your risk of food poisoning when eating out.

Food Safety And Eating Out: How To Avoid Food Poisoning


Do Your Research

When choosing a restaurant, be sure to check its inspection score to find out how it did on its most recent health inspection. You can find these scores either at the restaurant or on your health department’s website. Pest control is another huge factor influencing restaurant hygiene (in fact, it accounts for 20% of a restaurant’s inspection score).

Rats and mice, in particular, are some of the most common pests and spreaders of disease found in restaurants. Tables, chairs, and floors should therefore be regularly wiped down by staff with sanitizing chemicals, while spills and crumbs should be cleaned up immediately to prevent attracting unwanted pests.

Make Sure Your Food is the Right Temperature

Don’t tuck it into your meal until you’re sure it’s properly cooked. Foods like meat, poultry, chicken turkey, eggs, and seafood need to be cooked thoroughly at a high enough temperature to kill most types of harmful bacteria. When food’s between 40°F and 140°F – also known as “the danger zone” – it’s at the highest risk of developing food poisoning bacteria (including, Salmonella and E. coli).

eating outside

In the Danger Zone, bacteria can double in number in just twenty minutes. Eating lukewarm food is therefore a huge no-no. Cold food should be eaten cold, while hot food should be eaten hot. So, if your food’s undercooked, send it back – don’t feel like you have to eat what you’ve given when it may not be safe.

Enjoy Leftovers Safely

Take perishable foods home and refrigerate them immediately – within two hours of their preparation (or, if they’ve been left in hot temperatures above 90°F, within one hour). The faster you put leftovers in the refrigerator, the lower the risk of bacterial growth. So, that means if you aren’t going straight home after the restaurant, don’t opt for leftovers. Meat and poultry can be safely refrigerated at 40°F for up to four days, while eggs and lunch meat can last safely for five days. Anything older should be thrown out, not eaten.

tasty food

When reheating your leftovers, use a food thermometer to check they’re hot enough – food’s safe to eat once it reaches 165°F. If you’re using a microwave to reheat your food, be sure to give it a stir halfway to prevent cold spots. And, although you may be tempted, don’t taste food to check if it’s safe to eat – bad bacteria are invisible to the eye. If you’re ever in doubt, toss it out.

The importance of food safety shouldn’t be underestimated. By doing your research, making sure your meal’s at the right temperature, and enjoying leftovers safely, you can stay safe and minimize your risk of food poisoning.

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