1 in 5 take-out meals are a health risk and could lead to food poisoning, according to the London Daily Mail.
If you don’t think it affects you, Newsweek magazine says that these days, 1 in 4 meals are ordered from a car. And 1 in 8 meals are restaurant take-out, as opposed to fast food.
So, what’s contaminating the food? Mostly workers who don’t wash their hands after using the restroom, or infestations of rodents and cockroaches – a fast track to 24 hours of fever, vomiting, and living in the bathroom. But food poisoning from e.Coli and salmonella can cause serious health problems, and in rare cases, even paralysis and death.
Of course, all restaurants are inspected by the health department. But not all cities require their restaurants to post their “health grade” where diners can see it. But in every city where grades do get posted, the number of food poisonings drops 20%. Why? Because workers are more aware of the rules, and are better trained to avoid cross-contamination, like not storing salad greens underneath raw, dripping meat.
But if they don’t post grades in your neck of the woods, you can’t tell how safe the restaurant is.
So, before you order your next takeout meal, go into the restaurant and check it out using these tips from Theodore Gordon, a Washington D.C. health inspector. Germ-a-phobe that I am, I follow them every single time:
• First, hit the bathroom. Is there soap, hot water, and towels? If not, bye-bye. If you can't wash your hands adequately, neither can the cook staff who’s about to manhandle your food.
• Also, is there water on the bathroom floor. Are the trashcans overflowing? If it’s a mess, 90% of the time, the kitchen is just as bad, or worse.
• And the final thing to look out for if you want to avoid food poisoning is temperature - especially if you're eating from a salad bar or buffet. Hot food should be about 140 degrees – and should feel hot to the touch. Cold food should feel refrigerator cold - not room temperature. If everything’s lukewarm, hit the road, or be prepared to spend the next 24 hours in the porcelain palace.