Everyone enjoys eating out with friends or family. But, nothing can ruin an experience more than a food service business that has poor sanitation and food safety.
Meals prepared outside of the home are a risk factor for acquiring foodborne illness and, according to the CDC, have been implicated in up to 70% of traced outbreaks. Most of these incidents are caused by the poor food safety practices of restaurant workers.
Food can get contaminated anywhere – so it’s important to observe food safety practices when dining out – no matter who prepares the meal or where you eat it.
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Food Safety – Bacteria Danger Zone (40°F – 140°F)
Bacteria grows rapidly between the temperatures of 40°F and 140°F, doubling in number in as little as 20 minutes. This range of temperatures is called the “Danger Zone.”
Food Safety – Two-Hour Rule
The absolute maximum time for leaving prepared foods at room temperature is 2 hours—including time for preparation, serving and eating. Discard any perishable foods left at room temperature longer than 2 hours. If you are eating outdoors at a picnic or cookout where temperatures are over 90°F, discard foods after 1 hour.
Food Safety Observations for Dining Out
Follow some basic food safety observations for dining out:
- Check Inspection Scores
Many state health departments make restaurant health inspection scores available on the web. Check the score before going to the restaurant or check when you get there.
- Make Sure the Restaurant Is Clean
Confirm that restaurant tables, floors, and utensils are clean. If not, you may want to take your business elsewhere.
- Check That Your Food Is Cooked Thoroughly
Meat, fish, poultry, and eggs should be cooked thoroughly to kill germs. If food is served undercooked or raw, send it back.
- Properly Handle Your Leftovers
Taking your food to go? Remember to refrigerate within 2 hours of eating out. If food is left in a hot car or temperatures above 90ºF, refrigerate it within 1 hour. Eat leftovers within 3 to 4 days.
CDC Infographic (Protect Yourself When Eating Out):
- Download: Protect Yourself When Eating Out [PDF]