September is National Food Safety Education Month and serves as a great reminder to all consumers of the importance of preventing food poisoning. Everyone is at potential risk for a foodborne illness. However, young children, older adults, pregnant women, and individuals with compromised immune systems are at greater risk and are less able to fight off harmful pathogens.
Cleanliness is the first critical step in preventing foodborne illness. Be sure to choose a restaurant that focuses on food safety to have a safe dining experience. For more information, see HGIC 3620, Foodborne Illness: Prevention Strategies.
Here are four tips from the CDC to protect yourself when eating out.
- Check Inspection Scores: SC DHEC allows you to view the risk-based inspection scores for all facilities that are permitted under South Carolina Regulation 61-25 (This includes: restaurants, schools cafeterias, delis, bakeries, grocery stores, retail meat markets, convenience stores, and seafood markets). Of course, you can always check the restaurant’s score before entering to begin your dining experience.
- Make Sure the Restaurant Is Clean: Perform your own visual inspection to confirm that the restaurant is clean.
- Check That Your Food Is Cooked Thoroughly: Ensure that your food order of meat, fish, poultry, and eggs are properly cooked and is not served undercooked or raw.
- Properly Handle Your Leftovers: Have any leftovers from dining out? Be sure to refrigerate within 2 hours, and within the summer hot months of above 90°F, refrigerate within 1 hour. Leftovers should be consumed within 3 to 4 days of your dining experience or tossed out after that time.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2021, May 19). Food safety and eating out. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. https://www.cdc.gov/foodsafety/communication/eatingout.html.