When you’re dining out, the last thing on your mind is the safety of your food. But after learning these industry secrets, it might become the first thing you consider. Learn what you can do to ensure that your dining experience is just as safe as it is delicious.
Secret: You’re More at Risk for Food Poisoning After 8 p.m.Although it can feel sophisticated to dine out later, the closer you get to closing time, the more likely you are to get a compromised meal because the ingredients were prepped hours before, giving bacteria plenty of time to multiply.
Additionally, the kitchen may not be in ideal condition as your meal is prepared. The fryers have accumulated the build-up of an entire night's service, plus the oil isn't fresh anymore. Instead of making your food crispy, the grease just soaks into your food. Plus, the kitchen is in cleanup mode, so your dish could be being prepared next to a station that's getting cleaned, risking contamination from the spray solution.
If you're going to dine late, try to order something that's grilled, broiled or boiled. You want to get something that's cooked (as opposed to something served raw, like salad) so there’s a greater chance of killing off any dangerous bacteria.
Secret: Menus Can Be Dirtier Than Toilet SeatsMenus are rarely properly cleaned, and every person who comes through a restaurant touches them. A recent test by The Dr. Oz Show uncovered 7 out of 7 sample menus from restaurants in the New York City area were covered in bacteria, including fecal bacteria like E.coli and pneumonia-causing streptococcus.
Grip the menu by the top corners instead of holding it by the bottom. Most people hold the menu by the lower half, so you’ll be minimizing your exposure to bacteria.
Secret: If the Music Is Loud, You’re Going to OvereatThe louder the tunes, the more energy you’ll feel—meaning you’ll eat and leave quicker, resulting in a higher profit for the restaurant. The problem is that because you’re eating so quickly, you don’t have time to realize you’re full. Often, this results in over-ordering and overeating.
Don’t give your full order up front; instead, order each course separately. When you control the experience, you’ll eat slower and eat less.
Secret: Always Pack the Leftovers Yourself
When you give your half-finished dinner to your server to have it boxed up, remember, there's no special "leftover boxing-up station." Your plate is left in the kitchen next to dirty dishes and garbage. Your roll could land on the floor and then could be put back on your plate.
Additionally, you have no idea how your food will get into your leftover container; it could be with someone's bare hands that have just wiped down a table.
Always ask for the to-go container yourself and pack your leftovers at the table.
More from Dr. Oz on Eating Healthy
Published on September 05, 2012