If you want to eat better and stay healthy, eat at home. Eating out can eventually take its toll. Here’s how: dinners have no control over many aspects of food they are about to consume. For starters, the menu may not be accurate; for example, the menu may say wild-caught salmon while it was really farm raised salmon where conditions are known to be less than ideal for raising fish. Or, it could be worse… where the salmon is cloned. Costco and many other major retailers has refused to carry cloned salmon.
Poultry and eggs may be from chickens jammed into crowded pen conditions instead of being free range chickens. The chickens may be raised in the US, but shipped to China for processing where the US has little control over sanitary conditions. You wouldn’t think it makes economic sense to ship chicken back and forth across the pacific ocean, but it does.
Beef may be from suppliers outside the US where antibiotics and hormones are routinely used to produce faster growing and and fatter beef. By the way, the US Congress recently passed a law to allow suppliers to remove the country of origin label (COOL) from beef and pork meats. Also, China plans on producing hundreds of thousands of cloned beef to make up for food shortages. How will American consumers respond if and when presented with cloned beef?
Now that we covered the menu, let’s look at the kitchen and food preparation. You have no idea what’s going on with workers and sanitation behind the scenes. Conditions range from improper handling of foods, cooking surfaces, storage, leftovers, refreezing, etc., where food borne problems may exist and survive, to workers who may not wash their hands sufficiently after using the toilet facilities. By the way, who do you think cleans the restrooms when they need it? What about kitchen help and servers who have colds or minor contagious conditions that might be passed on to customers? High class food establishments are not necessarily better than fast food restaurants. Have you ever wondered if that slight stomach cramp you got a few hours after eating out may be a mild form of food poisoning?
Restaurants are subject to Federal and Local Public Health Department and Inspection ratings that range from A to C. Although restaurants are required make their ratings easily visible to customers, it’s up to consumers to ask for the ratings and understand their meaning.
A restaurant with one or two low risk violations or one high risk violation can still earn a 90 (A rating) or higher score. Grades in multiple areas are ultimately tallied and reported as A, B or C and are often criticized as being meaningless.
It’s a good idea to use social media when choosing a restaurant. It’s no guarantee, but it’s a good place to start when checking out a new restaurant. If you want to be worry free, buy your own food and cook it at home. Read labels, check dates and sources, and ask questions. If you can’t find the answers you need, ask the store manager. Follow safe food handling and cooking procedures after doing your own research. Finally, make sure you store food properly and consume leftovers before they become a problem. Bon Appetit!