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Restaurants…. Is Someone Manhandling Your Food?

By Rachel Hickey

This happened to me
I worked in a restaurant (I will not disclose the name because I don’t wanna get
sued), but food safety has been a huge concern for me after working in a restaurant. When there is
a rush in the food industry, food safety can go right out the window. I have seen other
servers and cooks not following cleaning protocols, touching fresh food with unwashed hands, and so much more. To get a little bit more specific, a while back, there was a hair in someone’s food that was about to go out to a table. I spoke up and said something to the waitress who was going to bring the food out. It needed to be redone because of a hair. She
said back to me “No it doesn’t. Hold on,” and reached with her bare hands on the plate of food to
pick the hair off. I stood there in shock and couldn’t believe she still took the food out there. A
minuscule issue like this could expand and get worse in a matter of seconds. Food safety should
be a huge concern to consumers everywhere.

My story is not unique
The public health problem that this situation is related to is food safety and the ways to
handle food in the restaurant industry. 1 in 6 Americans get food borne illnesses and
3,000 die from those food and beverage illnesses every single year. (CDC, 2022). Anyone is at
risk for food borne illnesses. If you’re going out to eat with friends or family, you are at risk by
eating at a restaurant and letting someone else handle your food. Unfortunately, I think we all
have a story of getting a bad meal from a restaurant or fast food chain that made us sick. This can
be due to improper sanitation techniques and bacteria getting into food. When we go to
restaurants and fast food chains, other people are handling our food, not us. However, many
people are not very hygienic and don’t even realize it. Spending a day in a college dorm will
show you that point. Something simple as sneezing or coughing near the food puts the consumer
at risk. Even all the way down to farmers, if they don’t handle the food that they grow properly,
bacteria is at risk for spreading. Food safety requires the efforts of everyone who gives food to
consumers. It is not just limited to restaurants alone.

Here is a non-profit
The International Association for Food Protection is a non-profit in Iowa who is
working to help protect the food we eat. The organization is made up of 4,500 food safety
professionals who create a platform to share ways to help protect our food supply. There are
about 5 different forums on this website to help guide us through food protection. A lot of ignorance
can be solved with education. While there is a lot of education and courses that people who work
in food service are required to take such as “serv safe”, reinforcement to this education through
programs like The International Association for Food Protection is vital. The organization states
that we must have very clear requirements, especially for farmers on how food can be treated and
handled once it is grown. Along with this, it talks a lot about the storage of certain foods like raw
meats and how you must handle them when ready to use them for those who work in physical
restaurants or food warehouses. One person who is unhygienic and doesn’t think about food
safety could be risking someone else’s life.


Here’s what the reader can do right now!

If you work in the food industry, be mindful about how you’re handling customers’ food
to be sure you do not spread food and beverage illnesses. When going to farmers’ markets, be
mindful of the laws that are in place to consume food. While the International
Association for Food Safety is not currently taking donations through its website, they are
looking for volunteers to help them with their mission. If you have a drive to volunteer for an
amazing organization that is committed to your health and safety, please follow here. There are so
many great opportunities to get involved and help improve the quality of the food we are
consuming.

APA citation:

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2022, May 24). CDC and Food Safety.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Retrieved September 17, 2022, from
https://www.cdc.gov/foodsafety/cdc-and-food-safety.html
Food Safety and Inspection Service. Foodborne Illness and Disease | Food Safety and
Inspection Service. (2020, October 21). Retrieved September 17, 2022, from
https://www.fsis.usda.gov/food-safety/foodborne-illness-and-disease
International Association for Food Protection. (n.d.). Retrieved September 17, 2022, from
https://www.foodprotection.org/

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