Going to a restaurant is a routine affair for some and is a rare luxury for others. Whichever of those two camps you fall into, one thing you have a right to expect is for the establishment to be clean and hygienic. Even if the food is not very good, even if the service is poor, even if the prices are extortionate, you have a right to expect that you will not have an upset tummy later on. Poor food, poor service, high prices: these are insult. Being made sick is another matter altogether that crosses the line. This is an assault. Restaurants who do not practice good hygiene are being reckless, not only with their business, but with the welfare of their fellow humans. Nobody has the right to poison anybody and in most jurisdictions this is not just unlawful, it is a crime that carries severe punishments.
So, how can you tell if a restaurant is fit to eat in?
Here are my top ten tips:
1. Choose a restaurant that has been recommended by a friend (who is still alive)
2. Check hygiene standards web sources such as www.scores-on-doors.co.uk (this covers the UK - there are plenty of similar sites for other countries)
3. Once at the premises check to see that there are plenty of diners. If it is nearly empty, be a little suspicious. If the diners don't look too well, be even more suspicious.
4. Before you order a meal, check out the wash rooms. If they look like they haven't been cleaned for a while, it may be best to move to another restaurant
5. Check that they have at least one (preferably more than one) fly killer machine on the premises. not just in the cooking and bar area, but in the dining area as well
6. If fly killers are present have a good look around the room. Are there any flying insects? If there are this would suggest that the fly killer machines are ineffective and may also suggest that the ultra violet lamps in the machines are so old that they no longer attract the flies (they only work for about 1 year even if they are still emitting light).
7. As a final check, why not take along a uv light tester. Don't be embarrassed: just hold the tester up to the fly killer machines to see that they are actually emitting uv light. If the tester shows that no (or very little) uv light is being emitted the fly killers are practically useless and you would be advised to dine elsewhere
8. See if the waiting staff look clean and, if possible, that the cooking staff are wearing hats and clean overalls. It may seem a little over the top, but see if your waiter has dirt under his or her fingernails. These should be scrubbed before handling food.
9. Once you are seated (if you got that far), check out the furniture. Are you sitting at a clean table? If present, is the tablecloth clean as well?
10. Now you are closer to the action, have a discreet look at the neighbouring tables. Does the food that other diners are eating look wholesome? It may be worth asking them what they think of it. It's never too late to walk out if you are not completely satisfied.
If everyone did this, many restaurants would be cleaner and healthier - and many lives would be happier and longer.
Vernon Stent is the content writer for flykill.co.uk. Here are their Electric Fly Killers and here are the UV Light Testers from Arkay Hygiene