If you are concerned about food safety – perhaps because you have allergies, or you have suffered from food poisoning before and really don’t want a repeat, then you should look carefully at potential new restaurants before you dine there. You may even want to check or ask if they employ a commercial cleaning company which should be better. If you choose a clean and healthy restaurant with a good track record you will be able to avoid most food safety issues.
Different local authorities have different ways of ensuring compliance when it comes to food safety. Some authorities use a ‘scores on the doors’ system, where you can see a rating based on cleanliness, staff training, and procedures. A perfect score is, obviously, best, but many very hygenic restaurants don’t get a perfect score because of space and storage limitations. They still meet the standards required to allow a restaurant to keep trading, but they will lack a star or a point because of those issues. Obviously, if you are concerned about food hygiene you might want to avoid restaurants that have the lowest ratings. Imagine what would happen if a company was having a bad day – and on a good day they only just scrape a pass on their assessments.
If you can’t rely on publicly published scores, you will have to do your own assessment when you come in. Are the carpets and windows clean? Are tables being cleared and cleaned regularly? Are dishes being taken away when a customer leaves? If cutlery is left out for customers to pick up, is it clean and stored well? Are the condiments on the table in code and are the bottles in good condition?
If you can see the cooking area from the customer area, does it look like it is clean, tidy and in a good state of repair? Is the chef wearing a hair net and and apron, and are they washing their hands when they should and taking appropriate steps when handling fresh meat or vegetables?
You don’t need to be an expert in health and safety yourself to tell if someone is doing a bad job or if food is not being handled properly. Dirty plates and glasses, unkempt looking staff, sticky tables and haphazard service are all warning signs that should send you running. Don’t put your health at risk by eating at a restaurant that you do not trust. Go to somewhere else with higher standards instead.