Dining out? Restaurant food safety tips

restaurant buffetHealth officials at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report that most outbreaks of norovirus — also dubbed the “cruise ship virus” — are caused by restaurant food handlers. The virus, which is the leading cause of food poisoning in the United States, affects more than 20 million Americans a year — and it’s likely that many more cases go unreported.

You can take steps to protect yourself from a dining disaster with these tips from the CDC:

  1. Check inspection scores. Many states make health inspection scores available online or require eateries to display them.
  2. Look for cleanliness. Tables, floors and utensils should be clean and neat.
  3. Make sure foods are cooked thoroughly. Meat, fish, poultry and eggs must be cooked thoroughly to kill germs.
  4. Eat leftovers safely. Refrigerate leftovers within two hours of eating (one hour if left in temperatures above 90° F, like in a hot car). Eat within three to four days and throw them away if they start to smell or look funny.

If you do get sick despite your best efforts, report your illness to your local food safety regulator. Public health officials need to identify and stop foodborne outbreaks as quickly as possible.