Donít Eat Out!

by Dr Vernon Coleman MB ChB DSc

My wife and I have stopped eating in restaurants. We are both concerned that the standard of hygiene practised in public eateries is simply not high enough.

The number of people suffering from diarrhoea and vomiting after eating out has rocketed in recent years.

And to be honest I am not surprised.

The problem, I suspect, is that television chefs (who have a tremendous influence on the way food is prepared) simply donít understand how easy it is to spread diseases in a kitchen.

Keith Floyd, undoubtedly the greatest of all television chefs, was a terrible offender. He loved to put his hands into the food he was preparing and would often dismiss the idea of wearing plastic or rubber gloves out of hand.

He would prepare salads with his bare hands. And he would even touch hot food on the plate in order to position things the way he wanted them.

Living chefs donít seem any better. I recently watched a few minutes of a Gordon Ramsey programme and was appalled to see him touching food with his bare hands. Yuk. How utterly disgusting. Would you allow Gordon Ramsey to put his bare fingers into your mouth?

I wonder if Mr Ramsey realises just how difficult it is to scrub all the bugs off hands Ė and out from underneath fingernails.

Chefs touching the food isnít the only hazard diners face.

Jamie Oliver had the embarrassment of customers falling ill with food poisoning.

And Heston Blumenthalís restaurant was shut after more than 500 customers were affected. Diners at Blumenthalís place complained of diarrhoea and vomiting and the Health Protection Agency found that shellfish served at the restaurant had been contaminated with human sewage. Nice. (To my astonishment the local environmental health officials decided not to prosecute Blumenthal because there was `insufficient evidenceí to take formal action. I wonder how many lesser known chefs running small cafes and restaurants have avoided a prosecutioní after dozens of their customers spent a day or two on the toilet.)

But too many chefs do touch the food they prepare.

And bugs are easily spread from fingers to food.

Before you eat out again ask yourself this simple question: `Would you allow everyone working in the kitchen to put their bare fingers into your mouth?í

If you wouldnít then you too should perhaps give up eating out.

Copyright Vernon Coleman