I haven’t yelled at people to WASH THEIR DAMN HANDS!! to prevent the spread of disease. At the aptly named Barfblog, Ben Chapman describes an article that interviewed him-very meta, I know… (boldface mine):
Restaurant inspections have definitely helped prevent outbreaks across the country, says food safety expert Margaret Binkley, an assistant professor in the department of consumer sciences at Ohio State University in Columbus. But the grades hanging in the window — or even a full report on public health websites — offer only a vague glimpse of the real risk of foodborne illness, Binkley says. “These places are often open 365 days a year, 12 hours a day,” she says. “A two-hour inspection is only going to be a very small snapshot.”
Out of necessity, inspectors tend to focus on things that can be easily checked, such as the temperature of a walk-in fridge, the cleanliness of the floors and countertops or whether cockroaches and mice have set up shop in the pantry. But these factors may not have much to do with actual diseases, says Benjamin Chapman, a food safety specialist at North Carolina State University in Raleigh. “You can’t look at an inspection report and know how likely you are to get sick,” he says.
Chapman says he would want to know one thing about a restaurant — and it’s not the health score. “I want to know whether workers are washing their hands.”
He notes that noroviruses — a leading cause of foodborne illness — are spread primarily through contaminated hands. (These viruses, which have also made the rounds on cruise ships in recent years, can cause diarrhea, vomiting, muscle aches and a mild fever.) And, he adds, restaurants often get shut down for violations that are much less dangerous than unwashed hands. “A cockroach infestation is not going to increase the chances that you’re going to get sick.”
Seriously, WASH YOUR DAMN HANDS!
(and soap and water is fine. For fifteen seconds at least).