Are You Sure You Want To Eat In A Restaurant These Days?

Some food inspectors have discovered a lot of filthy conditions in restaurants recently, and the findings are raising questions about whether eating out is really as safe as it seems.

In the image above, I would not eat the dish being prepared by that chef if I knew that he was handling the food without wearing protective gloves …

I can tell you that the idea of getting food poisoning is not very appealing to me and I have had a couple of friends hospitalized from it lately — all because they ate something at a fast food restaurant that was unsafely stored or badly prepared.

I still do not trust restaurant cooks and servers and waiters and waitresses to properly wash their hands after using the bathrooms and there is no way for customers to watch them and make sure they do. I understand that it is illegal to install security cameras in bathrooms so who is to know when some lazy-assed jerk forgets or simply refuses to follow the safety rules when working with food that other people will consume?

While restaurants are required to post inspection stickers near their front door, it doesn’t mean all of them are clean, according to Lori Freeman, chief executive officer for the National Association of County and City Health Officials.

Some of the dirty conditions that have been uncovered in recent years include rodent feces, sewage backing up on a kitchen floor, and expired food. These violations have caused many people to lose their faith in restaurants and have led to a number of restaurant closures across the country.

Where I live, one hugely-popular family-style buffet restaurant was actually forced to shut down forever after food inspectors discovered (More than once) that they had a habit of storing their uncooked hamburger patties outside the restaurant, on racks sitting very close to the restaurant waste disposal dumpster. This made the local news.

Roaches and unsanitary food-contact surfaces have been a common concern for a number of South Florida restaurants, but a number of other issues are also being found at restaurants throughout the state. In fact, last week, a Papa John’s restaurant in Miami-Dade County was shut down because of roaches and clean utensils or equipment being stored in a dirty container.

When I was a younger man, I worked in a fast food hamburger joint where rats would scamper across the kitchen floor at the busiest time of the day and where the long-haired “Old Timer” grill cook never seemed to wash her hands or to wear a hair net and actually smoked cigarettes while flipping the burgers.

Dirty mugs and glasses have also been a problem in some restaurants, with some inspectors saying that people should be mindful of where they put their mugs and glasses when they set them down on a table or plate. The reason for this is that if your hands are dirty and you put your mug down on a dish or on a counter, then you’re likely to transfer bacteria from your hands onto the glass.

Another thing about seating arrangements at restaurants: I personally always wipe off my table when eating in a restaurant. I carry sanitary wipes especially for the purpose. I also wipe off the utensils because it is hard to imagine what kind of crud they might have been washed in before arriving at your table or how long it was before they got wiped dry, or if they just sat out and dried on their own — or how dirty the rag they got wiped with was — I worked in one of these places once and I am here to tell you that many of them will cut corners wherever they can get away with it.

Dirty plates, utensils, mugs, glasses and all that kind of stuff can contaminate the food that you’re eating, making it more likely to make you sick. There are a number of ways to avoid this, but one is to make sure your mugs and glasses are cleaned before you use them. Like I said, I carry my own methods of doing this whenever I go out. I get a lot of stares from other patrons but it is my health I am protecting and I don’t give a shit what onlookers might think.

In addition, be aware that some of the most dangerous violations can come from the way food is held and kept cold. For example, if the temperature of chicken salad is below 60 degrees, this could cause it to grow bacteria and make you sick.

My friend, Jim and I, got a bad case of some kind of food poisoning after eating a chicken casserole at a church banquet. This tantalizing-looking casserole had been sitting in a heated room, on a long table, for God only knows how long before we ate some of it … I should have known when I noticed that the food was not barely like warm that it had been there some hours before we dug into it.

If your meal isn’t cooked properly, it can also lead to problems. This is why some restaurants have been shut down for this, and it’s important to make sure your food is cooked in a clean environment, says Kristin Clay, director of the Virginia Department of Health. Of course, you can never tell the cleanliness of a kitchen restaurant because you are generally not allowed to enter them — and even if the dining area of the establishment looks sterile as a hospital operating room, you have no idea of what that kitchen looks like.

Other common problems with restaurants include improperly cleaned dishes, ice machines and fridges. These can all be a sign of a problem in the restaurant and should be taken care of immediately, but again, the patrons are going to be clueless as to the sanitization of these things.

It pays, in my opinion, to do some research before going out to eat these days. I always look up eating places on a site where customer reviews of the establishments can be found and I have found most of these reviews to be fairly accurate.

Some of these problems can be solved by simply making sure all staff have proper training, But others may require more drastic measures, like having a worker fired or the business closed.

It is also vital to ensure that the restaurant is a licensed establishment. This means that the business is inspected regularly by a qualified professional and has been checked for safety and cleanliness. This brings me to another item for a short discussion — food trucks and food concession stands at fairs, carnivals and other such places. I have gotten sick a number of times after eating a sandwich from a food truck. I have to be awfully damned hungry before I take the chance with them these days.

While some of the most serious violations can seem scary, the good news is that a number of these restaurants have been removed from the list after receiving a failing rating during an inspection. In the end, most of them will have their inspections corrected and can return to serving customers once the problems are fixed.

But in the end, it is the customer’s responsibility to check things out, to ask others who have eaten in such places, and to do a little snooping wherever possible .. especially in the bathrooms. I have found, in my own experience, that the condition of the restaurant bathroom is a good indication about the cleanliness of the rest of the place.

Can Microwaves Prevent Food Poisoning?

I made some vegetable/beef soup this morning and for some reason, I had to go out somewhere and left it sitting, cooling down, for about three hours. Immediately after returning home, I began to get a nasty crawling feeling of fear in my stomach, wondering if I ate the soup, would I get food poisoning?

Then I had another thought … “If I put the barely-warm soup in the microwave oven and heat it to boiling again, it will be safe for me to eat.”

My question now, (Now that I have eaten it without microwaving it) is “Am I going to wake up in the morning with food poisoning?”

I got to reading about it and here is what I found … “on average, food poisoning symptoms begin within two to six hours after consuming contaminated food.”

So far, it appears that I am safe unless I am one of the unfortunate few whose symptoms are reported to be delayed for a few days!

So if I had put the soup into the microwave, would it have helped to protect me from food poisoning?

Here is what some folks have to say about it — “

Microwaves have become an essential part of our daily lives. We use them to heat up food, defrost frozen items, and even cook meals. But do microwaves kill harmful bacteria in food? This is a question that many people have been asking for years.

The answer is yes, microwaves can kill harmful bacteria in food. The high temperatures generated by microwaves can destroy the cell walls of bacteria, thus killing them off. However, it is important to note that not all bacteria are killed by microwaves and some may survive if the food isn’t heated properly or for long enough. Therefore, it is important to follow instructions when using a microwave and make sure that the food reaches a safe temperature before consuming it.

The fact that what I just wrote is conditional does not comfort me in the least.

A lot of whether I am safe or not depends on another couple of factors … (1) Was the food originally cooked long enough to kill the harmful bacteria? The generally-accepted temperature for safe cooking is somewhere around 165 degrees Fahrenheit, depending on what it is that is being cooked and (2) was the food left out on the warming table for more than 2 hours after being cooked before being eaten?

The United States Department of Agriculture says this — “

If a perishable food (such as meat or poultry) has been left out at room temperature overnight (more than two hours) it may not be safe. Discard it, even though it may look and smell good. Never taste food to see if it is spoiled. Use a food thermometer to verify temperatures. Never leave food in the Danger Zone for over two hours; one hour if the outside temperature is above 90 °F.

The Danger Zone is the temperature range between 40 °F and 140 °F in which bacteria can grow rapidly. To keep food out of the Danger Zone, keep cold food cold, at or below 40 °F, and hot food hot, at or above 140 °F.

The following quotation takes up the idea of super-heating food that has been left out too long (as it would be in a Microwave situation)”

When we’re discussing the causes of most food spoilage, we’re usually referencing the microbial spoilage caused by microorganisms and bacteria. Storing food at the proper temperature — typically through refrigeration — substantially slows the rate of bacterial growth within it. 

Any perishable foods will eventually go bad; there are no two ways about it. But if you cook your food early enough, heating it will be sufficient to kill the bacteria within it. However, the bacteria will eventually produce toxins that are heat-resistant, and that can’t be killed no matter how high you crank your oven. Simply put, if your food is in a borderline state of edibility, there’s at least a marginal chance you won’t be able to scorch all of the deleterious chemicals out of it without converting it into a pile of ash.

So, to make a long story short, I don’t have a clue as to where I stand at this moment but I guess I will find out after enough time has passed.

What is YOUR opinion or your experience?

Please leave me a comment if you wish to share.


I am making a vegetable sandwich for lunch

Vegetable Sandwich Recipe

Ingredients: -2 slices of whole-wheat bread -1 tablespoon of olive oil -1/4 cup of sliced cucumber -1/4 cup of sliced red bell pepper -1/4 cup of sliced red onion -2 tablespoons of hummus -1/4 cup of shredded lettuce -Salt and pepper to taste Instructions:

1. Heat a skillet over medium heat and add the olive oil.

2. Add the cucumber, bell pepper, and onion and sauté for 3-4 minutes until vegetables are softened.

3. Toast the bread slices in the toaster.

4. Spread the hummus on both slices of toast. 5. Top with the sautéed vegetables, shredded lettuce, salt, and pepper.

6. Serve and enjoy!

I have made this one on several occasions and I thought you all might enjoy it too.

Had Me A Blue Spell Today

My friend Jimmy was playing old sad love songs from his country music collection today — his “Massive” collection, I should say and as I was listening, my mind went back to days gone by and I started thinking about my wife and my parents … and my dog … and all the good times that will never be again … and I got very sad and began to silently cry. I had to wait until the tears stopped flowing before I could administer my glaucoma drops. Can you say, “Pity Party?” I guess that despite all my exterior bravado, I am still a kind of wimp after all .. because men are not supposed to cry, are they?

We had macaroni with hamburger and spaghetti sauce for lunch today … (“Johnny Marzetti”) and it was delicious. Marzetti and toasted Italian bread. Yummy!

I discovered something called the “Blue Zone” diet today …. a diet that is supposed to help people live to be a Hundred years old ….I looked into it … I am not sure I could stomach that diet on a daily basis … It is all about grains and fruits and vegetables and tofu and all that kind of stuff that makes up a lot of other eccentric diets … diets like the Mediterranean diet … and a few others. I guess that I am going to remain a traditional American diet lover for the rest of my 120 years. (The Bible says that Humans are designed to live to be at least 120 years old.).

But if you would like to check the “Blue Zone” diet out for yourself, here is a link you might find interesting:

About now I am starting to think about some good old country biscuits and sausage gravy with fried potatoes on the side.

How About Vegetables For Breakfast?

Read my medical disclaimer before you proceed:

My breakfast this morning was two carrots, a large onion, and a large white potato all prepared in a steamer with some butter and salt added. Of course I had my morning coffee too… with a tablespoon of blackstrap molasses stirred in.

Why vegetables for breakfast?

Breakfast is the most important meal of the day, and it should be nutritious, energizing, and satisfying.

While traditionally, breakfast foods like eggs, bacon, and pancakes have been the go-to choices for many, there are actually plenty of delicious and nutritious ways to incorporate vegetables into your breakfast.

Vegetables are a great way to start your day off right. They provide essential vitamins and minerals, help to keep you full until lunch, and can be incredibly tasty. Whether you’re looking for a savory breakfast or something sweet, there are a variety of ways to incorporate vegetables into your morning meal.

For a savory breakfast, consider whipping up a vegetable omelet. Start by sautéing onions, peppers, mushrooms, and spinach in a pan. Once cooked, add them to beaten eggs and cook until the omelet is set. Serve with some toast or a piece of fruit and you’ve got a nutritious and delicious breakfast.

If you’re looking for something sweet, try baking a veggie-packed frittata. Start by preheating your oven to 350 degrees. Place a variety of vegetables, such as broccoli, asparagus, and peppers, into a greased baking dish. Pour beaten eggs over the veggies, sprinkle with cheese, and bake for 25 minutes or until the eggs are set. Serve with some toast or a piece of fruit for a well-rounded breakfast.

Vegetables can also be added to smoothies for a quick and easy breakfast. Try adding spinach, carrots, or beets for a nutrient-packed smoothie. You can also add some nuts, seeds, or nut butter for an added boost of protein.

Vegetables don’t have to be boring or tasteless. Incorporate them into your breakfast to start your day off right with a nutritious and delicious meal. I often have nothing but steamed, baked or boiled vegetables for my own breakfasts.