Will your home kitchen surpass restaurants in inspection?


How many times have you wondered that the food you ate in restaurant was hygienic?  An estimated 87 million cases of food-borne illness occur in the United States each year, including 371,000 hospitalizations and 5,700 deaths, according to an Associated Press calculation that uses a Centers for Disease Control and prevention (CDC) formula and recent population estimates.  A new study reveals that 98% of restaurants in Los Angeles maintain superior condition in their kitchen, but many households would fail in the inspection.

About the study
Los Angeles County department of Public Health started a program in 2006, a home kitchen self-inspection program, which was intended to help consumers learn how to store and prepare food safely. The program involved asking household to take online quiz with 45 yes or no questions that simulates a restaurant inspection checklist.

The quiz included questions like whether fruits or vegetables are always rinsed before they are eaten; whether refrigerator temperature is 41 degrees Fahrenheit or lower and so on. The study is based on quizzes taken through 2008.

Results of the study
The study is believed to be one of the first to offer a sizable assessment of food safety in private homes. The study found that

  • Overall, 34% got an A, meaning they correctly answered at least 90% of the questions.
  • Another 27% got a B,
  • 25% a C, and
  • 14% failed to score at least a 70.

Flaws in the study
The study was based on Internet quiz not based on actual inspections so, it had some inherent  flaws: 

  • based on only 13,000 adults
  • It might be fair to compare home kitchens to restaurants that involve trained inspectors giving objective assessments of dirt, pests, and food storage and handling practices
  • Study does not represent all households as people who were more interested and conscientious about food safety were more likely to take the quiz.
  • Martin Bucknavage, a food safety specialist with Penn State University‘s Department of Food Science said that “You’ll miss a big population who don’t have home computers or just really don’t care” about the cleanliness of their kitchens
  • It is suspected that if you do a more careful survey, the home inspections might perform worse than the survey calls for.  None-the-less, I think the study is an eye opener as it brings the fact that households need to be more careful about the conditions in their kitchen.  I think there should be a country wide education program that instills best practices in the household to prevent the food-borne illnesses.

Source: Usatoday


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