How to be a Smart Foodie When Dining Out

Jan 15, 2014, 07:00 ET from Be Smart Be Well

Food Network host Ben Vaughn offers restaurant food safety tips to help you avoid food poisoning when dining out.

CHICAGO, Jan. 15, 2014 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Dining out can sometimes feel like a gamble: Does the restaurant practice good food safety, or will a bite out result in a night of food-poisoning misery?

(Photo: provides diners tips to avoid food poisoning with a new video featuring Ben Vaughn, host of Food Network's Health Inspectors. In the video, Vaughn leavens the serious topic of food poisoning with humor and a behind-the-scenes look at restaurant food safety.

Watch Restaurant Food Safety Tips with Ben Vaughn.

Food poisoning possible at any type of restaurant
Food poisoning strikes about 48 million people in the United States each year, and nearly half of recent foodborne illness outbreaks were caused by food consumed in a restaurant. Just 21 percent were caused by food consumed in a private home, according to the Centers for Disease Control.

It doesn't matter how fancy a restaurant is; if the staff doesn't follow good restaurant food safety practices, there is a risk for food poisoning. "You can get foodborne illness from any type of restaurant—from the lowest level of the mom-and-pop all the way to the fine dining restaurant," Vaughn says in the video Restaurant Food Safety Tips with Ben Vaughn.

Dining out, but staying in control
While most diners do not have the behind-the-scenes access that Vaughn does, anyone can be a "smart foodie."  "Just 'cause you're dining out doesn't mean you're not in control," he says.

Some of the food safety tips from the Food Safety site include:

Tip: Scope the scene.
The first thing a diner should do upon entering a restaurant is take a close look at the public areas. The cleanliness and orderliness of a restaurant can be an indicator of what's going on behind the kitchen door, according to Vaughn.

Tip: Order fresh, order smart.
Smart ordering can help lower the risk of food poisoning, Vaughn says. "Be regionally respectful," he recommends. "The farther food has to travel to reach your plate, the higher the risk it has been improperly handled somewhere along the way. "Look for ingredients that don't belong in that area and don't order them."

Tip: Review the health inspection report.
Restaurants are required to post their health inspection reports, or make them available upon request.  "Health inspection scores should be posted at the front door. If you don't see a health inspection or you don't see a current health inspection, ask," Vaughn says.

Watch Restaurant Food Safety Tips with Ben Vaughn for more tips and advice.

Learn More provides practical provides practical information about managing the risks of food poisoning. The website includes:

  • Interviews with leading health experts
  • Real-life stories of people who survived severe food poisoning
  • A quiz to test your kitchen-safety smarts
  • Reputable resources and links for more information

At the site, visitors can also sign up for the bimonthly Spotlight Newsletter and biweekly News Alerts for more in-depth articles and breaking news on food poisoning and other important health topics.

About Be Smart. Be Well. is compliments of Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Illinois, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Montana, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of New Mexico, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Oklahoma and Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Texas, Divisions of Health Care Service Corporation, a Mutual Legal Reserve Company, an Independent Licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association.


SOURCE Be Smart Be Well