It’s a pretty common reaction when you come down with a contagious illness to start looking for the culprit at work or home who passed it on to you. But the next time you’re suffering from a cold or flu, you might want to start thinking back to the last restaurants you visited.
A new survey of over 200 chefs in England has found that a whopping third of them have come crawling to work within 48 hours of coming down with a sickness that laid them low – even if they were plagued with symptoms like vomiting and diarrhea.
Yet another third have offered up near-spoiled meat to patrons, 16 percent have plated chicken that was potentially not cooked all the way through, and 7 percent do not wash their hands after handling raw fish and meat.
“Foodborne illnesses impose a huge burden to the U.K. population, and these results indicate a high prevalence of behaviors which can give people food poisoning,” co-author Dan Rigby of the University of Liverpool told Science Daily.
“Masking the smell and taste of meat on the turn (close to spoiling) is an old industry trick, and the ability to do it means restaurants can cut costs,” he continued. “Showing you can do it shows a potential employer you are experienced in the industry.”
You might think we’re safe from gross food practices since we’re on the other side of the Pond, but studies show that Europe has an even safer food-handling culture than we do in the United States.
Alright, so just avoid that $5.99 all-you-can-eat deal at the Chinese buffet at that rundown strip mall, right? Wrong.
“Chefs in fine dining establishments were more likely to have returned to work too soon for fear of losing a prestigious job, or a desire not to let the team down,” Rigby added. “It is causing people to not stay away for long enough, putting the public at risk.” That certainly sounds like a work ethic that translates to American fine dining as well.