Eating out in the Rain: Choosing Safe Restaurants and Food Vendors

By Amatul Ameen | 27th Jul 2023

Eating out in the Rain: Choosing Safe Restaurants and Food Vendors

The rainy season is the time of the year making you crave hot, tangy and spicy foods. Eating out in the monsoon is a unanimous choice for various reasons like they have a huger platter of dishes and are quickly available at your comfort.

A few things we have to be mindful of while eating out in the rain are extra care on hygiene issues, food storage and preparation, clean water and cleanliness of restaurants and staff hygiene.

Storage and preparation of food

It is one of the prime things while having outside food. Storage is an issue when you eat street food, as food during the rainy season should be stored in tight and sealed containers, which is a challenging situation for street food vendors. Storing food in air-tight containers can help in controlling contamination.

Cooked foods can also get very easily contaminated during this period, so the food must be served hot, and any leftover foods should be adequately and immediately refrigerated.
Poultry foods (meat and eggs), seafood, milk & its products, green leafy vegetables, sprouts, vegetables and fruits are high-risk foods which should be compulsorily appropriately cooked.

Not doing so would lead to food poisoning and fungal infections during rains; this is one example. Fungal diseases cause serious health illnesses and lead to death. Food-borne fungi varieties are yeasts and moulds. Toxins from moulds and fungi are called mycotoxins. Mycotoxins are easily found in cereals, nuts, spices, dried fruits, apples, and coffee species during the rainy season. The effect of food poisoning due to mycotoxins ranges from acute/short-term food poisoning to immune diseases and cancer.

Luke, warm food should be avoided during rain. Hot foods should be served hot and cold foods should be served cold. When eating in a restaurant, ask the server to serve hot foods like soups in sweltering conditions, and cold foods like salads should be cold but never vice-versa. Germs that cause food poisoning grow fast in temperatures between 40 and 140 degrees Fahrenheit.

Refrigerate the leftover food as quickly as possible. Once you eat up food, any leftovers should be put in the fridge within two hours of cooking. Also, sometimes it should be refrigerated if it has been exposed to very high temperatures, like above 90 degrees Fahrenheit. Eat the leftover food stored inside the fridge within 3-4 days and not more than this.

Waterborne diseases during monsoon

Waterborne diseases are quite common during the monsoon. Precautions are necessary for diseases like typhoid, cholera and diarrhoea as they spread through contaminated water. Make sure the water you use is sufficiently filtered & boiled before use.

Cholera is an acute diarrhoeal illness caused by infection of the intestine. Cholera-infected symptoms include watery diarrhoea, leg cramps and vomiting. Among the most common prevention steps for cholera are; to be sure to use and drink safe water only; if you think the water is unsafe or contaminated, treat it with chlorine, boil it, treat it with bleach or filter it.

Typhoid occurs when there are unsafe food and drinking habits and poor sanitation.
Carefully eating and drinking is critical to avoid typhoid attacks. In monsoons, the risk of consuming contaminated water and food is high as it is difficult to maintain hygiene by food vendors.

Cleanliness of restaurants and staff hygiene

Choose a restaurant which has a clean environment. A dirty place will become a source of many diseases, typhoid, cholera and diarrhoea, due to infections like E.coli, staphylococcus aureus and Clostridium botulinum. Choose a restaurant or eatery where the staff use neat and safe types of equipment like hand gloves, chef-apron etc. The medical and fitness tests of the hotel staff are maintained and updated regularly.

How to choose the right restaurant?

When you decide to eat food outside, watch out for these things

  • Raw and cooked foods are well separated.
  • Overall, The restaurant is clean, hygienic surfaces are clean, and utensils or vessels are cleaned.
  • The toilets are maintained clean.
  • Dirty conditions in the general public areas of the restaurant are a clue of what it is like inside the cooking area/kitchens, where we have limited to no access.

Tips to follow when buying outside food

  • Buy any hot food when they are heated to a superhot level. Never eat when hot food is sold in a lukewarm condition.
  • Cold food should be displayed and sold in refrigerated or cold cabinets. These cold feeds should be in cold conditions when you eat.
  • Pre-made foods containing foods that rot quickly, like meat, eggs, fish and chicken, should be refrigerated appropriately, or if at room temperature, it should be no more than four hours.
  • Do not buy foods which appear soggy, blanched and lack freshness.

Risky foods to be avoided

  • Raw and improperly cooked meat
  • Dairy products like custard, cheesecake etc.
  • Eggs and egg products
  • Cooked rice
  • Prepared salads
  • Prepared fruit salads
  • Sea foods such as fish, prawns and shellfish.

Final Word

Foods are an essential part of living. With so much comfort and convenience being done to improve our lifestyle, eating outside food is also part of it. While it’s not taboo or harmful to do, be careful and mindful about this, especially during the monsoon season. Avoid foods that are easily contaminated, do not buy stale and soggy foods, check the conditions under which the food is stored, and check the expiration date on ready-to-buy foods. Eat food only in restaurants with considerable safe and hygiene levels, like clean tables, drinking water, and glasses served in clean vessels. Also, the surrounding ambience must be maintained well; not doing so will lead to infections and diseases like typhoid, diarrhoea and cholera. Just be watchful and gorge on your favourite foods in this rainy season.

References

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