Hey, the title warned you—don’t blame me if you need to cancel your dinner reservations after reading this.
Mother Jones recently reported that restaurants and delis are the source of more than half of foodborne illness outbreaks (which kill three thousand Americans every year). What’s making people sick? Health specialists for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found out … and the answers are stomach-churning.
1. Half of food workers say they work while ill.
Twenty percent of them have even vomited or had diarrhea during at lease one shift in 2012. Twelve percent had those symptoms for at least two shifts.
Why don’t they just go home? Well, many don’t feel it’s an option with no paid sick time or no sick leave policy at their job. And according to the CDC, many workers are also concerned about leaving their team short-staffed.
2. Know the safe cooking temperature for chicken? More than half of restaurant managers don’t.
And fewer than half of restaurant managers reported that they use the FDA-recommended method of taking the temperature with a thermometer to determine when chicken had reached its final cook temperature. Meanwhile, over half used methods like evaluating the chicken’s appearance and feel, or the staff’s experience and skill. (It’s 165 degrees Fahrenheit, by the way!)
3. They’re eyeballing the doneness of your burger, too.
Almost half of chefs don’t bother with a thermometer to check when a burger is done, opting to use color or feel as their cue instead. Not all of them succeeded—CDC inspectors found that 12 percent of the burgers they tested were undercooked (less than 155 degrees Fahrenheit).
4. Basic food safety practices aren’t enforced.
Forty percent of restaurants were found not to use separate cutting boards for raw chicken, and 25 percent of managers said they don’t use disposable gloves to handle chicken. Meanwhile, nearly two-thirds of restaurant workers didn’t wash their hands between handling raw beef and handling cooked food, increasing the risk of E.coli spreading to cooked food.
5. The veggies are also suspect.
Think at least the leafy greens must be safe? Not according to one study, which found that almost half of vegetable shipments were not delivered at the recommended temperature, which can promote the growth of germs.