Ever get a strange feeling that everything might not be up to snuff at that 24-hour diner you stop at when you pass through town?
You might be right — and your stomach might pay the price if you end up back behind the wheel with a case of food poisoning.
Most of us trust that restaurant food is safe, but the fact is that you are twice as likely to contract food poisoning from restaurant food than from home or truck prepared meals.
While most truck drivers can’t avoid eating at restaurants all the time, there are some warning signs that you should pay attention to when dining out to help you avoid stomach discomfort or worse.
- Don’t order the special. You might think that you’re getting some interesting new concoction from the kitchen, but most restaurants actually use lunch and dinner specials to try to get rid of food that is about to expire.
- Smell before you taste. If your food smells weird, it probably isn’t good for you. Trust your nose.
- Order what everyone else is having. A dish that gets cooked more often is more likely to be fresh than one that the kitchen rarely makes.
- Think twice about buffet food. It is almost impossible for restaurants to keep buffet food at the proper temperature, upping your risk for food borne illness. Even worse? You have no idea what the guy in line ahead of you did to those mashed potatoes.
- Choose a chain restaurant. You are statistically less likely to contract food borne illness at a chain restaurant than a mom and pop diner.
- Pay attention to the restaurant employees. Cooks and servers should have clean uniforms and good hygiene. If they don’t, consider going somewhere else.
- Skip the salsa. The CDC says that salsa and guacamole are becoming more common causes of food poisoning because they are made in big batches that can sit for a long time.
- If the restaurant is a ghost town, go somewhere else. An empty restaurant at peak dining hours is a big warning sign that others may have had bad experiences there. You may be safer dining somewhere that’s more popular.