Omnivore - More on restaurant food safety

Time has posted a more thorough report on the study of dirty restaurants I mentioned last week.

Atlanta is cited twice in the article — once for having a good ratio of health inspectors to retaurants. (Georgia has stricter regulatory laws than many other states, thanks to a law adopted last year.) We're also mentioned for an undisclosed restaurant that had mold growing in its ice machine.

I found this information pretty staggering:

The CSPI estimates that the average American eats out five times a week. The vast majority of them survive unscathed, but every year, 76 million Americans fall ill from unsafe food. More than 15 years of data show that 41% of all food-borne illness outbreaks in the U.S. can be directly traced to restaurant food. In 2005 a single employee reportedly infected with norovirus at a Blimpie sub shop in Michigan ended up sickening more than 100 customers. Investigators think the virus was transferred to food products and between employees who used the same sink to wash hands and wash lettuce without sanitizing the sink between uses.

That's one in four Americans!

"Food poisoning" has been epidemic lately, not just because of restaurant practices but because of contaminated ingredients themselves. This is a particular worry for those of us who eat out constantly. I get sick at least twice a year, as I've reported before. Of course, I can rarely be certain which restaurant was the culprit.

A few years ago, I got very sick after eating at a now-defunct restaurant in Midtown. I knew the particular restaurant was responsible because a friend who dined there with me also got sick. I got a completely hostile reaction from the restaurant owner-chef when I called to inform him.

Check out the Time article here.

A good blog on food safety issues is the delicately named Barf Blog operated by the International Food Safety Network.

(Graphic from the CDC.)

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