How Safe is Bed & Breakfast, Motel or Hotel Breakfast Food?


On a recent cross-country auto trip, we stayed in several nationally known motel chains. Alternately we often will stay in a Bed & Breakfast and/or independent motel or hotel that is highly rated by fellow consumers on travel websites.

I frequently wonder how many of the server staff have had food safety training. I assume that most national motel chains have training courses as part of their orientation. But what about the bed and breakfast or the independent motels? I would guess the standards may not be at the same level.

Research has shown that food safety standards in a typical home fail to meet recognized food safety standards. If the servers in the aforementioned have not had any food safety training, guests are at increased risk of food borne illness.

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 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. Remember we are also responsible for protecting ourselves. Everything you touched before eating could be contaminated.
  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 medleys 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.

Fortunately, food safety training is now convenient, inexpensive or FREE. There are many online resources available in multiple languages. Unfortunately, most food safety training is oriented toward the restaurant industry.

Through a strategic alliance between and, Sponsor or donated dollars are supporting FREE food safety courses for this under-served group of well-meaning hosts and hostesses.


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 a consultant to the Wisconsin Retail Food Establishment Grading Work Group; a Co-investigator in a CDC funded “Evaluation of Health Department Restaurant Inspection Programs” project. He has presented at several National, State and Regional conferences on restaurant grading and food safety. He is an accomplished leader, medical researcher, a champion of process improvement, author, and national and international speaker.

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