Food Safety and Eating Out

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COVID-19 and Eating Out

Currently, there is no evidence to suggest that COVID-19 is spread by handling or eating food. However, it is important to limit close contact with people outside of your home, encourage handwashing, and wear a mask when you’re not eating. Get tips for protecting  yourself from COVID-19 when eating in a restaurant, and read considerations for ways restaurants and bars can protect employees and customers. CDC recommends you get a COVID-19 vaccine as soon as you are eligible.

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Going out to eat? Look for a restaurant that keeps food safety on the menu. Here are tips to protect yourself from food poisoning while eating out.

Avoid Food Poisoning: Tips for Eating at Restaurants

  • Check inspection scores. Check a restaurant’s score at your health department’s website, ask the health department for a copy of the report, or look for it when you get to the restaurant.
  • Look for certificates that show kitchen managers have completed food safety training. Proper food safety training can help improve practices that reduce the chance of spreading foodborne germs and illnesses.
  • Look for safe food-handling practices. Sick food workers pdf icon[272 KB] can spread their illness to customers. If you can see food being prepared, check to make sure workers are using gloves or utensils to handle foods that will not be cooked further, such as deli meats and salad greens.
  • Order food that’s properly cooked. Certain foods, including meat, poultry, and fish, need to be cooked to a temperature high enough to kill harmful germs that may be present. If a restaurant serves you undercooked meat, poultry, seafood, or eggs, send them back to be cooked until they are safe to eat.
  • Avoid food served lukewarm. Cold food should be served cold, and hot food should be served hot. If you’re selecting food from a buffet or salad bar, make sure the hot food is steaming and the cold food is chilled. Germs that cause food poisoning grow quickly when food is in the danger zone, between 40°F and 140°F.
  • Ask your server if they use pasteurized eggs in foods such as Caesar salad dressing, custards, tiramisu, or hollandaise sauce. Raw or undercooked eggs can make you sick unless they’re pasteurized to kill germs.
  • Take care of your leftovers quickly. Refrigerate leftovers within 2 hours of eating out. If it is above 90°F outside, refrigerate leftovers within 1 hour. Eat leftovers within 3 to 4 days. Throw them out after that time.
Report a Foodborne Illness
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If you think you or someone you know got sick from food, please report it to your local health department. Report it even if you don’t know what food made you sick. Reporting an illness can help public health officials identify a foodborne disease outbreak and keep others from getting sick.