Choosing Safe Lodging Breakfast Food

We like staying in motels that offer breakfast. It’s convenient and it saves money. Can’t beat that. But how clean and how healthy is that breakfast food?

It is reassuring that the respective Health Departments do food safety inspections and often post the results for the public. Unfortunately there are many Health Departments that do not post these scores.

Yet, a quick Google search reveals that many people complain of getting food borne illness after eating in a lodging establishment.

As I consider the food safety risks from lodging breakfast food I would divide it into the following categories:

  • Failure to use good hand hygiene when preparing the food: I have watched the servers move chairs around, pick up garbage, handle cartons and then handle food.
  • Failure to adequately wash fruits or vegetables: I suspect in many cases the server, simply puts the apples and oranges on the buffet table. The diner assumes they have been washed and they might not be. I was impressed with one Miami motel that washed and then wrapped the apples before putting into a serving basket.
  • Time temperature abuse: In this scenario the food has not been adequately cooked or is not held at the right temperature while on the buffet table.

What can food servers do to reduce the risk of food borne illness for their guests:

  1. Don’t prepare food if you are sick.
  2. Wash your hands frequently.
  3. Use gloves and keep the gloves free from contamination while preparing ready to eat food.
  4. Be sure that risk foods are held at the appropriate temperature.
  5. Wash fruits and vegetables thoroughly.
  6. Handle and provide utensils in a clean manner.

What can you do to protect yourself so you don’t get sick on that long car ride to the next motel?

  1. Wash your hands before eating. We have to remember that we are also responsible for protecting ourselves and everything you have touched before eating could have been contaminated. So wash your hands.
  2. Carefully handle the dishes, cups and utensils so you don’t contaminate them.
  3. Eat foods you are confident are well cooked. Slimy eggs, partially cooked fish or meats, fruit medley’s at room temperature are all risky.
  4. Assume everything needs to be washed. Wash the orange, the apple, the banana, hard boiled eggs, etc before you trim off the skin. Unless you do, you are contaminating the inside of the fruit. Ask yourself if your surgeon would cut through your skin without washing it first.
  5. Don’t eat any ready to eat food you personally witness that has been served without the use of gloves by the server.

Send us pictures of healthy dining practices and we will post on our Instagram account.

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Author: Dr. Harlan Stueven, MD

Harlan Stueven M.D. is a Board Certified Emergency physician with sub-specialization in Environmental Toxicology and Board Certification in Medical Toxicology. Starting his career in the USAF, he served as a Flight Surgeon and Environmental Health Consultant Physician where one of his duties was monitoring food safety. In his nearly 40 year practice, he treated a range of medical, surgical and poisoning emergencies. He has been a Medical Director and/or Chairman of several hospital-based Emergency Medicine Departments, served as the President of Emergency and Environmental Medicine consulting group, a physician group Chief Financial Officer and sat on many national, state and local committees. Dr. Stueven founded Dining Grades and the Dining Safety Alliance to improve food safety by increasing awareness of food borne illness and the formation of partnerships within the food industry. He is an accomplished leader, medical researcher, a champion of process improvement, author, and national and international speaker.

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