Food safety requires proper cleaning practices
Whether eating out or cooking a meal at home, the cleanliness of the food preparation surfaces and of the food itself can greatly impact your chances of experiencing the devastating effects of food poisoning. At home, something as simple as washing your hands before and after handling food can keep you safe and healthy. While you have less control over what happens in a restaurant, you can keep your eye out for signs of poor food handling procedures there as well.
Washing your hands involves more than simply running them under some warm water. Before and after handling food, you should wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Be sure to rinse the soap off well afterwards. If you are in the middle of preparing food and then sneeze, blow your nose, or touch any potentially contaminated surfaces such as the garbage can, you should wash your hands again with soap and water for another 20 seconds!
Utensils, dishes, and preparation surfaces should also be kept clean, to prevent cross-contamination. For example, if you cut up chicken with a knife on a cutting board, thoroughly clean your hands, the knife, and the cutting board before preparing any vegetables or other food items you may be planning to add to the chicken dish.
When eating out, observe the restaurant for cleanliness. Check the serving surfaces and, if possible, the cooking surfaces. Also note whether the restaurant employees are following food safety protocols. Do they wash their hands thoroughly after using the restroom? Is the same spatula used for raw meat and for the vegetables on the grill? Do employees wipe their hands on their aprons or clothes while handling your food?
Even the small, often unnoticed procedures such as the need to use a clean towel when wiping tables can make a huge difference in your enjoyment of the food – and your food safety!