Afraid of dirty restaurant kitchens? To paraphrase novelist Thomas Wolfe: Look homeward.
The results of a two-year Web survey conducted by the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health found that at least one in seven home kitchens would flunk the kind of inspections that restaurants go through, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported September 2nd in their Prevention Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.
Of the 13,000 adults who completed the Internet quiz over two years, only 34 percent received an A rating. Another 27 percent received a B, while 14 percent failed, the CDC says, reminding consumers that the bulk of food poisonings occur in people's homes. In comparison, 98 percent of restaurants in L.A. County get A or B scores each year.
The quiz included 45 yes-or-no questions that mimicked a restaurant inspection checklist.
Some of the questions included queries that one would expect, including whether one's kitchen guests include rats and/or cockroaches.
Other yes/no questions included:
• I wash and sanitize my sponge daily.
• My kitchen walls/floors/ceilings are free of any damage or deterioration such as chipped paint, holes in the wall, etc.
• I never leave leftover foods at room temperature for more than four hours.
The results showed:
• 28 percent of respondents did not remove all jewelry from hands and/or did not keep fingernails trimmed when cooking.
• 26 percent reported their kitchen shelves and cabinets were not clean and free from dust.
• 9 percent reported they had flies inside the home.
The quiz was meant as an education tool for homeowners. During 1999–2007, food-borne diseases caused a reported 2,590 hospitalizations and 17 deaths in Los Angeles County, the CDC noted. The agency concluded: “The findings in this report show that even among interested and motivated persons, food handling and preparation deficiencies occur frequently in the home setting.” Consider us schooled.