Before you take a bite of a fast-food hamburger or the like, do you ever stop to consider what has been involved in the preparation of it? Who has handled your food and how sanitary was the process? Do you ever stop to consider that you could be putting yourself at risk each and every time you choose to trust others in the preparation of your food?
Sure, that last question may seem a bit extreme, but fast food does not automatically mean properly handled food. Cases of food poisoning arise on a daily basis even though the fast food business is flourishing. Fast food has become the American way it seems and we go blindly forth ordering with the illusion that the food has been prepared in sanitary conditions.
From bug problems to breeding bacteria, fast food restaurants have countless dirty secrets behind their counters, and although the rules are put into place and enforced by management, inspectors, the Food and Drug Administration, and so forth, in reality the ideal is not always met.
One of the most common causes of food poisoning is bacteria transfer due to the food not being properly cooked or kept at the proper temperature. With such a demand for fast food, it is too easy for the employees to compromise their duties for the sake of saving time, and before they know it, they’ve served a meal that will give its eater a nasty case of food poisoning. The rules should be followed every time, not some of the time, as is most often the case.
It is up to the management to see that the employees are properly doing their job, and of course, effective management makes all of the difference. Close supervision is a necessity to help ensure that work is being performed properly. Employees must care about their job and in return feel valued so that they will be more willing to perform their job correctly. Too often low pay, long hours, and little recognition makes employees more likely to do less than what is expected of them. Also, improper training leads to improper fulfillment of job duties.
Unclean areas like counters where food has touched can also spread bacteria and cause food poisoning. That is why it is important for employees to clean up after themselves and make sure that their workspace is kept clean. Also, containers that haven’t been properly washed and food that hasn’t been properly rotated are havens for bacteria.
Employees who don’t wash their hands before returning to their shift can unknowingly spread bacteria and other diseases. That is why it is of the utmost importance that employees wash their hands and also why every fast food restaurant should have at least one sink designated for handwashing with properly posted instructions, the necessary soap, paper towels, and so forth. Wearing gloves when in contact with food serves as added protection but even gloves can touch unclean surfaces, so they need to be changed after coming into contact with unsanitary surfaces, items, and so on.
Even pests can present a challenge to cleanliness in fast food working environments, so it is important that restaurants are regularly treated for pests. No one wants an unwelcome visitor in their food, but it has and does happen more than we’d like to think. If an employee witnesses a pest making contact with the food (such as a fly or cockroach), the entire amount of food in the container should be discarded.
Hairnets are a good idea for keeping stray hairs out of food. Hats are more often the rule, but less effective in preventing hairs from getting into the food. Wearing long hair back in a ponytail or braid is a must. Neat grooming can also minimize the likelihood of stray hairs getting into food.
Fast food is convenient but not always clean. Every establishment should go above and beyond the norm to ensure that food is properly handled although sadly many fall short. Before ordering your next meal at a fast-food restaurant, take a close look at the employees and the environment if you can. You may not be able to spot what goes on behind the scenes, but trust your instincts for what you are able to observe.
Better yet, if you want to be risk free from food poisoning, cook at home. Until each and every fast food establishment reaches the 100% level of cleanliness, you will be eating at your own risk. Can that ever happen? There is no reason why it shouldn’t where health is concerned.Better yet