Eating out food poisoning: dodgy hygiene culprit exposed

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Pizza selfie
Self-inflicted misery – self-accused too. The phone for that selfie has her greasy fingerprints all over it. And mobiles are the most germ-laden of all

Culprit is right.

Dodgy hygiene can kill a restaurant reputation. Somebody screws up and the customers stop coming. So who’s the likeliest suspect in any food poisoning scandal?

We’ll give you a clue.

You’ll find the culprit among whoever hasn’t washed their hands.

The one-sided blame-game

Kinda crucial in the food preparation business.

So it can’t be kitchen staff, they’d get fired if they took that chance. Not the serving staff either, for the same reason.

Which leaves who – the manager? The sweeper-upper? But neither of them ever touches food.

There’s one person who does though. And they seldom if ever wash their hands before handling anything. Yet they’re the ones most likely to squeal if food poisoning strikes.

Cramps, vomiting, diarrhoea – must have been something they ate.

Yep, we mean the customer.  Frequently first to complain, even more often last to accept any blame.

Fingers of suspicion

But look at them. Did they wash their hands when they came in? When they sat down? When they ordered? Or when their food arrived? Plenty of opportunity – and pretty well all restaurant have washrooms.

How about before they got to the place? Out in the street, on the tube or bus?

Or before that. When they left home or parked their car?

How about when they went to the loo?

So is it any surprise they feel a bit queasy after an evening of eating out?

Sure, their cramps are real and horrible. The upchucks and runs aren’t much fun either.

But if you think about it, aren’t their woes more often than not self-inflicted?

There are regulations about restaurants – or any food joint. Bye-laws to follow, standards to keep up, inspections to pass. Yes food poisoning happens, but there’s a lot of safeguards in place deliberately to prevent it.

Not so in the customer’s case. There’s no restrictions at all.

Which makes it doubly dodgy. Bad habits make many a new culprit.

Yet how many restaurants get bad-mouthed for salmonella, norovirus, campylobacter or e. coli? As if there’s staff wilfully using unrefrigerated, out-of-date food prepared with hands steeped in old WD40 and serving it undercooked.

Unaware, unhygienic, unsafe

Unrealistic, right? And not exactly fair.

Hunting a culprit where there most likely isn’t one. Unwilling to accept any personal blame or liability. Falsely accused.

But not out of any maliciousness. It’s just that washing hands and careful hygiene is not on anyone’s radar.

Every restaurant patron knows about germs. But you sit and watch – a whole evening can go by and not one of them will make the effort to wash their hands before eating.

And they’re the ones jumping up and down about food poisoning!

OK, there’s always exceptions. Food joints that get careless – with ropey washrooms you might never want to know about. But the customers still take risks – not washing their hands, evidently trusting that they have cast-iron stomachs.

Finger-lickin’ dicey

It gets iffier still when you consider how many foods are eaten with just fingers – burgers, sarnies, pizzas, chicken, fish and chips – and all varieties of curry.

If nothing else, we owe it to ourselves to carry hand gel or wipes for when we can’t get to facilities. Or to use at table before touching anything. Nobody’s going to mind if you sit there carefully giving your hands the once-over. They might even admire you for it.

Better than being the culprit for an unpleasant experience – knowing or otherwise.

Picture Copyright: ammentorp / 123RF Stock Photo