Understanding what puts you at risk for food poisoning and learning how to spot signs of poor food safety can help you avoid foodborne illness. These key Habits to Have® will help you lower the risk for food poisoning when dining out.
If meat comes to you lukewarm or pink, send it back, and make sure the food is brought back on a clean plate. Don't eat eggs that are runny--scrambled, fried and poached eggs should be firm. Be certain buffet food is properly warmed and chilled.
All dining establishments must undergo regular inspections by the local public health department. Check the website of your local health department for health code violations and restaurant closures. If you don't check the report ahead of time, look for it on site. Restaurants are required to post their health inspection reports, or make them available upon request.
Upon entering a restaurant, take a look around the entrance, dining room and bathroom, if you can. The cleanliness and orderliness of the public areas can be an indicator of what's going on behind the kitchen door.
Ask what the house special is and order that. If a restaurant is serving a lot of a certain dish, chances are the ingredients are fresh. Try to avoid out-of-season fruits or vegetables or far-from-the source meats or fish if you can't be sure of freshness. Know that raw fish, like sushi, is more likely to harbor bacteria or parasites. If ordering a salad, try to minimize human contact (and risk of germ transmission) by requesting the salad not be tossed or vegetables be served on the side.
Less than 10 percent of people who believe they got food poisoning from a restaurant report the illness, according to the CDC. It is important to report cases of foodborne illness to your local health department so that public health officials can identify and investigate outbreaks so that more people do not get sick.