Everyone enjoys going out to eat; no cooking, nice atmosphere, relaxing with your friends. But how clean is your favorite restaurant? Did it get an “A”, “B” or “C” rating during its last inspection? If your favorite restaurant is in Orange County, it does not have an A, B, C rating system like Los Angeles and San Diego counties, only violations. Do you know to ask the restaurant for its lists’ of violations’? Not many people do, but it just may change your eating out habits.
For consumers here in Orange County, restaurants must only post a decal stating that they meet the minimum standard for food safety. Your favorite restaurant may have several major and minor violations and no one would know until they are closed, or at least have a temporary suspension.
Last year, California’s new retail food code became effective to protect the citizens of this state from potentially life-threatening food borne illness. The Orange County Health Care Agency’s 55 inspectors do have a huge job on their hands, though. They need to inspect some of our 12,000 restaurants each year. If you would like to check your favorite restaurant for violations, visit their website at www.ochealthinfo.com for full disclosure.
In 2007, Orange County restaurant’s had over 20,000 major and 163,000 minor food safety violations. These violations can be as small as no hot water to rats and cockroaches in the food preparation area. Proportionately, violations occurred all over Orange County, but some communities had more than their share of closures. Westminster had the highest, followed by Foothill Ranch, La Palma, San Juan Capistrano, Laguna Beach and Capistrano Beach.
Ethnic restaurants are always interesting and fun to “experience” the culture and atmosphere of cultural eating. However, these types of restaurants; most predominately in the Asian and Latin immigrant communities had the worst major violations.
The centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimate that 76 million people get sick each year due to food poisoning. Over 325,000 people need to hospitalize with their symptoms and 5,000 die. Most food borne illnesses go unreported to health departments, because people are unsure whether the food from the restaurant caused their symptoms or the flu.
Most food borne illnesses are caused by viruses (67%), bacteria (30%) and parasites (3%). Viruses such as Hepatitis A are highly contagious and can spread rapidly. For example, common bacteria’s like E. coli, salmonella and botulism are common culprits to contaminated meats and fresh produce. Parasites are less prevalent in the U.S., but can be pervasive in third world countries.
Depending on what type of poisoning you have, your symptoms can develop immediately or up to 7-10 days after eating the contaminated food. It is important to see a doctor if you have severe abdominal pain, diarrhea that lasts more than two days and a fever of 102 or higher.
If you suspect that you were poisoned or injured due to the unsanitary conditions of a restaurant, don’t hesitate to call a personal injury attorney as soon as practical. Food poisoning is not just “a little diarrhea” but could cause neurological/kidney damage or worse, death.
So the next time you eat out, check out the restaurant online to have a safe, healthy eating experience. For further information on storing and cooking foods at home, visit www.calpoison.org for tips on staying healthy during the upcoming BBQ season.