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Staying safe when dining out

November 10, 2014

One of the most common misconceptions that persists in regard to food safety is that any “off” food should be easy to identify.

Unfortunately, the truth is that food can smell, look and taste exactly as you would expect, and yet still not be safe to eat. The reason for this is that bacteria does not always emerge because the food is old. Bacteria can be present on fresh foods, and improper handling or preparation methods can help it to thrive.

Although it’s usually quite easy for people to get on top of their food safety practices at home, it isn’t always possible to know every stage of your food’s preparation when you go out to eat. Subsequently, it’s important to take special care when you are dining away from home.

What to remember

First of all, it’s a good idea to learn which foods are considered “high risk”. High risk items include foods such as poultry, meat, eggs, dairy products and seafood. Cooked rice, pasta, deli meats such as ham or salami, and prepared salads are also classed as high-risk foods, and many people often forget this.

Next, make sure that you observe how food is prepared and handled in your favourite restaurants. Cooked and raw foods should always be kept far away from one another, and the staff should use clean kitchen towels to wipe surfaces as well as separating the utensils they use to handle different foods.

One tip that many food experts stand by is to evaluate the cleanliness of the overall establishment. For example, are the windows and tables left dirty and sticky? Have carpets and floors been vacuumed? If the management team within a particular establishment doesn’t seem to care about the state of the most frequented areas in their restaurant, it’s possible that the kitchen isn’t much cleaner.