A restaurant in Newport Beach touted as healthy was recently forced to shut its doors when customers got intestinal bacteria called shigella after eating there, a disease that is often caused by unsanitary conditions.
After the incident, True Food Kitchen restaurant reopened its doors and underwent a massive cleaning operation. It also made use of employee replacements from other branches, located in San Diego and Santa Monica.
What’s alarming is that as early as June the restaurant was inspected and it was found that there was a lack of hygiene, the presence of vermin, and food that was not properly stored.
The problem is that when we hear the word 'healthy' we immediately think that it means safe, hygienic and good for you. But this is sadly not always the case. There are other factors to take into consideration, no matter where you are eating. As Orange County Public Health Medical Director, Matt Zahn, had said in an article posted on the CBS website:
'You look at food potential issues, you look at environmental potential issues, you look at the possibility that there is one person or worker there who may be infected who may be passing that bacteria onto food and making people sick.’
Although it is scary to think of all the variables that could pose you, the customer, harm, there are ways in which you can limit your risk of being infected by a foodborne illness:
- 1. Take a look at the restaurant bathroom. This is often very telling of the type of establishment and if it is focused on hygiene. Keep an eye out for an 'Employees must wash hands' sign.
- 2. Visit the salad bar, if there is one. Check that the salad, or other food, bars are kept cool at 41 degrees or below. If hot food is being served, it should be at least 135 degrees. If the heated food doesn’t look too hot (or some of it has formed a crust) or there is melted ice around the bar, give the food a miss.
- 3. Sniff your food when it arrives. It should smell fresh and delicious. If you catch a whiff of anything that just doesn’t smell right, don’t eat it.
- 4. Choose popular dishes. These have a higher turnover, so it’s less likely that they will be left lying around.
*Image courtesy Flickr Creative Commons