What is This Food Safety Rating Scale About?

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Food Safety Risk FlagWe list these Red Flags so you’ll know how to evaluate food facilities. The next time you go out to eat, you’ll be smarter and notice things you might not have thought about before. But what do you do with it?

Please understand: our Red Flags are only guidelines. We don’t want to dictate what you should or shouldn’t do. Recently, on a vacation, my family was eating at a restaurant and I noticed that the cook wasn’t wearing gloves. Even worse, he was touching his face a lot, and then touching the food. I pointed it out to my wife. She gave me her “Don’t make a scene!” look (while kicking me lovingly under the table). I decided to keep my mouth shut. Sure enough, both of us were ill that night and the next day. What a way to finish a vacation! On the other hand, if I had ignored my wife and complained, it would have hurt our family time. Talk about being caught between a rock and a hard place – be sick or be right!

Should I have said something? Probably. Will I ever return to that location? No way.

Child Eating WatermelonThe point of the Red Flags is to help you to recognize risks. You may notice something at the amusement park snack bar that would be a Red Flag #8 or #9; yet you choose to eat there anyhow, because – well, because it’s there. On the other hand, in a Full Service, fine dining restaurant, you may see a #5 or #6 Red Flag and choose to leave. We can’t tell you what to do, but here are some suggestions:

Red Flags #1 to #3
Take notice of it – but don’t worry too much.

Red Flags #4 to #5
Raise your eyebrows! Go ahead and ask questions if you feel it’s appropriate.

Red Flags #6 to #8
Definitely talk to the manager, see how he/she handles it, and decide whether to leave or stay.

Red Flags #9 or #10
Talk to the manager and leave!

To decide how to respond to food safety issues you witness, or to decide when to call the health department, please click here.

If you have questions or a specific scenario that you’d like my opinion on, click here to e-mail me.

To learn more about basic food safety at home, click here.

To review what Red Flags watch for in a Quick Service or Full Service restaurant, click here.

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