A recent food safety review by North Carolina State University, found that workers contaminate food with dangerous bacteria about once every HOUR!
Researchers installed cameras in several restaurants to monitor the food safety habits of employees. They found restaurant workers using their aprons and clothing to dry their hands and preparing raw and cooked ingredients on the same surfaces. They also found that food safety went out the window during busy times, like lunch and dinner rushes. When things got hectic, workers would use the same utensils on several different dishes and forget to wash their hands altogether. Both are big health violations and a great way to spread bacteria like E. coli and Salmonella.
The restaurant industry isn't happy about the review. Joan McGlockton works for the National Restaurant Association. She says the study doesn't represent the whole industry, and that many restaurants pride themselves on the way their employees handle food. However, someone is messing up somewhere. There are 76-MILLION food borne illnesses every year, and at least half of all food-related disease outbreaks are associated with restaurants. Some cases are mild, but about 5,000 people die each year because of something they ate.
Don't cancel your dinner reservations just yet. The North Carolina State University researchers found that employees made safer choices when information on food safety was posted in the break room or kitchen. The Food And Drug Administration is working on a plan to police restaurants better to prevent food borne illnesses. In the meantime, you may want to avoid the lunch and dinner rush.