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How To Eat Out Safely


Dining out can be an enjoyable and relaxing experience or it may simply be a necessity for those pressed for time.   

Being diagnosed with a serious or life-challenging illness is no reason to stop dining out.   Simply use the same common sense and practical guidelines for food safety when dining out that you apply at home.  Always remember that your health comes first. 

If you are uncomfortable with a restaurant or don't feel that it, or the food it serves, meets your standards, do no eat there. If there's a question about cleanliness in the kitchen, seasoned travelers check out cleanliness and tidiness of the bathroom.

  • Order food well done.
    • The U. S. Food and Drug Administration suggests always ordering your food well done.  If it arrives medium to rare, send it back until it is cooked to your satisfaction.  While some individuals may find these guidelines unappealing, keep your health in mind.  Do you really want to take a risk? 
    • If ordering eggs, make sure they are cooked on both sides, and not served sunny side up.  Avoid any raw eggs, or foods containing raw eggs, such as the dressing for a Caesar salad.  If you are uncertain of the ingredients in a particular dish, ask your server before ordering.
  • Avoid raw seafood.
    • Raw seafood can be particularly risky for anyone with a compromised immune system.  The U. S. Food and Drug Administration recommends avoiding oysters on the half shell, raw clams, sushi and sashimi.  It also recommends that lightly steamed seafood such as mussels and snails be avoided as well.
    • When ordering food from a deli, be certain that the clerk's hands are washed thoroughly between handling raw and cooked items, or that the clerk puts on new plastic gloves.  Don't buy cooked, ready-to-eat items that are touching raw items or that are displayed in the same case.
  • When ordering a beverage, order a canned or bottled product.
    • Tap lines can harbor harmful bacteria. 
  • Only drink safe water.
    • If in doubt, order your beverage without ice to prevent exposure to any water borne contaminants.
    • See Water Safety for additional guidelines.
  • Eating at street vendors and county fairs:
    • O. Peter Snyder, Jr, PhD, of the Hospitality Institute of Technology and Management in St. Paul was quoted in Health Magazine as recommending: Hot food should be served directly from the grill or from a steaming hot pan. Avoid hot food that has been sitting out. For cold food, it is preferable to eat commercially made frozen treats. For example, ice cream. Avoid home made treats such as shaved ice. There is no way to know if the ingredients are contaminated. Avoid green salads. They may not be cleaned adequately.

For additional safe food information: Contact USDA 24/7 with specific questions through their web site: offsite link. Or call 800.535.4555.

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