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Inspecting Mall Food Courts

Updated on February 19, 2016

We love going to the malls to shop. During Black Friday, we beat the Christmas rush by getting good deals. We love getting items on a bargain. But the mall is not only for shopping. It's also a place where we grab something to eat. Famous fast food chains have stalls in big shopping malls. There are other restaurateurs who put up their own stalls in the food court. But did you know that there are hidden dangers lurking in every stall in the food court? Not all stalls are hygienic and practice safety regulations. Food Inspector Peter De Lucia mentioned that food courts are a breeding ground for germs. De Lucia visited one food court in the US and discovered that vermin and rat traps are found near the exit of a mall. When he visited the food court itself, he saw live birds situated all over the place. These birds could spread diseases once you eat your food on the table.

De Lucia used a laser thermometer to check how hot or cold the food that was being served in the malls. Hot foods should have a temperature above 140 degrees. Cold foods should have a temperature of 40 degrees or lower. The reason why most mall food courts are not sanitary is because these stalls have limited space. They cut corners and they neglect food safety measures.

Here are some ways on how to check if the food stalls are neat and clean.

1. Serving trays- Most people think that the trays where we put our food on are sanitary. Most trays have fungus and fecal matter. Most stalls are not using a sanitizer to clean the trays.

2. The tables- Germs are spread on the tables because the there is only one rag that is used in cleaning all the tables.

According to De Lucia, in order to prevent the spread of diseases in food, you should order take out food. That way, you can be sure that the food is free from contamination.

3. Soda machines- These are difficult to clean because you have to break through the nozzles to clean all the liquid and sticky syrup. When servers use a bucket of ice, they sometimes don't use a scoop. They instead use a plastic cup to scoop the ice out of the bucket. The unclean hands end up touching the ice making the ice filled with germs. Salmonella is commonly found in the bucket of ice.

According to De Lucia, the best way to prevent this from happening is to order bottled beverage.

Consumers can check if the food stalls are clean and the food is safe to eat. Here are some tips:

First, place your hand on the glass to check if the glass is hot or cold enough. It will only take a few seconds to determine if the food is safe to eat. This will ensure that the machine in heating the food is working while serving the food.

Second, when you are ordering food, ask the server to get food at the bottom of the serving pan. The food at the bottom is the hottest and that means, it is less likely to be contaminated with germs.

Third, check if the restaurant is busy or if they have long lines. Restaurants that have long lines have more turnover and serve fresher food since they cook the food while the customer waits for her order. There was one Chinese buffet restaurant in the mall that didn't have a single customer. They didn't have long lines. The food inspector sat there for an hour and discovered that the waiters didn't reheat the food that was supposed to be served within that hour.

Fourth, be vigilant when observing the food servers at the food court. Make sure they wear gloves while serving the food. They should wear hairnets. Because most waiters wipe their sweat off their foreheads and sometimes they would be caught sneezing on the food itself.

Be careful when you eat outside especially when you go to shopping malls. You cannot bring a thermometer every time to check if the food is heated enough. The least we can do is to inspect for ourselves the cleanliness of every food stall with our own two eyes. By following these tips, we can guarantee that the food we're eating is safe.

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