Staying Safe When Eating Out

A food safety misconception is that off food will be easy to identify. In reality food can look, smell, and taste just fine but still not be safe to eat
December 6, 2012
By Michael Stewart

One common misconception in regards to food safety is that of food will be easy to identify as such. In reality, food can look, smell, and taste just fine but still not be safe to eat. 

This is because bacteria and organisms responsible for causing food poisoning are not necessarily there because the food is old. They may be present on the foods to start with. However, improper preparation or handling methods can mean that they’re transferred to the food later on.

Although it’s possible to get on top of things at home and know for certain how your food has been treated, this isn’t the case when eating elsewhere. For that reason, special care needs to be taken when dining away from home.

Know what foods are considered higher risk than others. High-risk foods include meat, seafood, poultry, eggs, and dairy products. However, they also include other foods many people don’t readily think of as high risk such as cooked rice or pasta, prepared salads (including fruit salad), and small goods like ham and salami.

Also pay attention to how food is prepared and handled at your favourite restaurants. Observe whether or not raw and cooked foods are kept well separated. Note whether or not staff use clean cloths to wipe surfaces and separate utensils to handle raw and cooked foods.

One rule of thumb experts swear by is to check out the overall cleanliness level of the establishment. Are the tables or windows left sticky and dirty? Are carpets clean and vacuumed at all times? Are the bathrooms kept neat and tidy? If the management team attached to a given establishment doesn’t seem to care about the state of areas the customers will actually see, then it’s possible the kitchen won’t be much cleaner.