Sunday, November 24, 2019

Food courts – enjoy the food but skip the germs

When traveling this holiday season, you may find yourself eating at some food courts.  Most have a variety of food options.  Food courts also have a variety of germs that you really don’t want to partake of.  Dr. Oz has previously investigated food courts and recently did a show on food courts and why they can be full of germs – bacteria, fungi and even fecal matter.  What can you do to enjoy the food but leave the germs behind?

Food Courts – where are the germs?  

1.     Temperatures – often the food at food courts is lined up in pans along a window making it easy for you to see your choices.  But is the food being kept at the right temperature?  Dr. Oz reports on a study that found many food court establishments are not keeping hot foods hot and cold foods cold.  Hot foods should be kept at 140 degrees or warmer and cold foods at 40 degrees or cooler (e.g. salad bar foods).  When tested, food temperatures at some food courts were not kept hot enough or cold enough.  This means the food is a breeding ground for bacteria.  One restaurant was keeping the chicken at 88 degrees – well below the recommended 140 degrees. 
2.     Tables – ever put your fork, knife, or napkin on a table in a food court?  You may want to think again once you learn all the germs on food court tables.  Yes, the staff may be wiping down the tables, but are they using the same cloth to wipe down every table?  Are they using the same cloth to wipe the chairs and maybe even a spill on the floor?  If so, the staff is merely spreading germs from table to table, chair to table or floor to table.  Watch the staff.  Are they ringing out the wiping cloth in a sanitizing solution after they wipe off each table?  Probably not.  And not just food courts have contaminated tables.  I once was at a PTA meeting at an elementary school.  A father put his infant on a table in the cafeteria and began to change the infant’s diaper.  Totally disregarding the elementary school kids who would be spreading out their lunch on that very table the next day.  What germs linger on?  The study found fecal material and fungus on almost every table they tested.  Gross! 
3.     Trays – who doesn’t carry the food they ordered on a tray to get to their table?  Well keep your silverware and napkins and any food away from the tray surface.  The trays are not often cleaned properly and can also be a breeding ground for germs.  Just like tables, some staff use the same cloth to clean every tray passing germs from one tray to another.  One study found some of these food trays had more germs than bathrooms or found on gym mats.
Keep silverware and food off the tray
4.     Touch Screens So convenient to order your food from a touch screen.  Makes ordering fast and easy.  But who else touched the screen before you?  What germs linger there?  Web MD reported on a London Metropolitan University study that tested those touch screens.  They found E. coli and staph germs on some screens.  

5.     Ketchup, Mustard – individual packets are best.  If the ketchup and mustard are in bottles, the outside of the bottles can be full of germs.  After serving yourself, be sure to sanitize your hands before eating. 

How can you avoid the germs?

  1. Food – keep the food you are about to eat off the trays and off the table.  Keep food in its containers. 
  2. Silverware and napkins – lay a napkin down to put your silverware on and to put another clean napkin on.   
  3. Table and trays – don’t use tray tops or table tops to put your food or silverware on.  Keep the food in the serving container and put a clean napkin down before you put your silverware on the table or tray.
  4. Sanitize your hands after going through the food line and touching the tray, the silverware, the ketchup or mustard pump, or other surfaces.  

Enjoy your travels this holiday season.  Just leave the food court germs in the food court and don’t bring them along on your travels.  Using a touch screen to order your food?  Wash or sanitize your hands before eating your food. 

No comments:

Post a Comment