Friday, December 13, 2013

Handle With Care

I quit eating out long ago. I still on the odd occasion do take out in both Thai and Indian cuisines with enough spice in theory to kill any bacteria that could possibly be awaiting to provide a revenge that only Montezuma would enjoy. But I rarely do any meat or poultry dishes preferring to add those at home. It reduces cost and in turn ensures safety.

And then today I read this little blurb

CDC Reports Many Restaurant Workers Fail to Wash Hands

December 13, 2013 at 9:35AM by Kiri Tannenbaum

According to a new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, restaurants are still failing to implement basic practices that would increase food safety and help reduce the 48 million cases of food-borne illnesses that occur each year.

The CDC reports that about half of all food-borne illnesses that occur in the U.S. are associated with restaurants and delis. Such illnesses could easily be prevented if restaurants educated their workers and took action to improve their best practices. The CDC found that many workers failed to wash their hands and a large majority of restaurants also allowed sick workers to come into contact with food.

Nation's Restaurant News reports that 20 percent of the 491 restaurant food workers surveyed by the CDC "worked at least one shift in the past year despite being sick with vomiting or diarrhea," both symptoms of food-borne illness. The researchers found that the workers were afraid to leave the restaurant short-staffed or feared getting fired.

The CDC found other causes of food-borne illness were a result of failing to follow proper procedure when handling ground beef, chicken, and leafy greens. According to Nation's Restaurant News, the CDC studied 385 restaurants where workers handle ground beef. A startling 62 percent of the reviewed actions revealed that the worker did not wash his or her hands after handling raw meat. Once the meat was cooked, nearly 50 percent of the workers failed to see if the meat had met the proper temperature and more than 80 percent said they never used a thermometer to measure the temperature. The report stated that the culprits were more often independent restaurants rather than chain establishments, as "chains and restaurants with kitchen managers certified in food safety tended to have safer beef handling practices."

Restaurants also failed to properly handle produce. The report showed that more than half of the restaurants observed refrigerated their greens at a temperature above the FDA's recommendation of 41 degrees.

Chicken is probably the most important factor in restaurant food safety; it has been linked to deaths following food-borne illness. Sadly, Nation Restaurant News reports, the CDC study showed that 40 percent of managers (from a sample of 448 restaurants) do not designate a specific cutting board for raw chicken preparation. They also failed to check the cook temperature and more than 50 percent of the restaurant managers did not even know the proper cook temperature for chicken.

Are you concerned about the way food is handled in restaurants? In addition to handing out educational pamphlets, what should the CDC do about food safety?


Note that hand washing and lack thereof is the number one contribution to staph infections in hospitals and they are the supposed educated ones with regards to cleanliness... but hey they have so many other things in which to get wrong so frankly this is nitpicking.

But it does not shock me that Restaurants are not any better when it comes to hygiene, personal, or animal or vegetable. As most food in this country is fast and we know that wages and benefits lack regardless of the type of establishment, why would it shock you that they neglect to maintain a protocol of cleanliness. When you make somewhere between nothing and well nothing more why would you care if the customer you serve contracts your illness or a food borne one? It is not as if the corporation cares about you?

I don't miss dining out as frankly I can do well dining in. What is tragic is that this is all preventable, possible and easily done. Why isn't it? I dunno ask the shareholders, the owners and the franchisees who are sure that paying people a decent living wage, providing health care will somehow scare away the customers. And disease doesn't.

I would like a side of salmonella with my whooping cough please.

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