How to dine safely when eating out

Monday, February 22, 2010

Although most wait staff and restaurant personnel are fully trained in food safety today, even some of the best restaurants are capable of committing mistakes that can lead to foodborne illness.

If you find yourself at an unfamiliar restaurant, the following tips may help you stay healthy: *When first entering a restaurant, look around before you sit down. If the dining area or restroom is not clean, chances are the kitchen will not be either. *Watch to be sure that the wait staff does not touch the tips of your silverware with their bare hands. *If ordering a hot dish, only eat the food if it is served hot. If the food is lukewarm, it could have been standing at room temperature, which could lead to the growth of foodborne bacteria. *Where possible, make sure neither the cook nor the wait staff touches cooked food with their bare hands. *When traveling outside the U.S., ask for drinks directly out of the can or bottle and open them yourself. Avoid fountain drinks or drinks served with ice if you are not sure of the local water quality. *Don't eat meat, eggs or other raw foods that are undercooked (avoid runny egg yolks). *Don't forget to wash your own hands before and after eating. Lastly, leave leftovers at the restaurant if you won't be able to refrigerate or freeze them within two hours from the time the food was first served. If you do take leftovers home, place them in the refrigerator immediately. They should be eaten within one to two days or frozen if you would like to keep them longer. Leftovers should be reheated to at least 165 degrees F.

Bon appetit!