Anytime you eat outside of your own home or consume food that you have not prepared yourself you are, in fact, taking a health risk. How do we ever know for certain if food is safe or prepared in a fashion that has our best interests in mind?
However, this does not seem to deter millions of Americans who dine daily on food prepared in kitchens they never see by hands that they do not know, or sold in an already cooked and prepackaged fashion.
Golden Corral restaurants have been serving Americans all over our country since its first restaurant opened in Fayetteville, NC in 1973. Their legendary “all you can eat” buffet is well known and offers an abundance of food items including;
- sirloin steak
- homemade meatloaf
- pot roast simmered for 12 hours
- made-from-scratch mashed potatoes
- creamy mac and cheese
- rich green bean casserole
- an abundance of sugary treats
For almost 40 years, Golden Corral has been known as America’s #1 buffet and grill.
This may be about to change.
A recently released video filmed by an employee of a Florida Golden Corral shows shocking footage of trays of perishable food items stored right beside the dumpster outside of the restaurant.
According to the employee, the restaurant was being inspected, and for some reason the food was hastily moved outside where blistering hot temperatures beat down on hamburger patties, ribs, chicken and other food items, most uncovered and littered with flies. Other reports indicate that this food was being served to customers. Watch this shocking video below:
While this may be one of the worst cases of food safety you have seen, it is not the first, and undoubtedly will not be the last. Inspections all over the country regularly turn up violations such as improper cooling and cooking of foods, improper hot-holding temperatures for cooked food, lack of thermometer use to monitor food temperatures, improper garbage disposal, dirty bathrooms and improper food handling.
While this particular video and news story zeros in on the Golden Corral in Florida and is of course, a blemish of sorts for all Golden Corals, we have to understand that we don’t see what goes on “behind the scenes” in any restaurant, food packing plant or even feedlot for that matter.
Know Your Food
Unless we grow our own or know the people who provide us our food, we will never know where our our meal has been, whose hands have touched it, how it was packaged, transported, stored or prepared. This is the chance we take when we dine away from our homes.
This, in combination with the fact that most dining establishments visited by Americans are not serving food that is on par with what the body needs nutritionally, creates a sort of double whammy effect. In many instances, we would be better off investing our money in good wholesome food and preparing it ourselves than dining on nutritionally void foods that may be mishandled.
Food researcher, lecturer and author Michael Pollan has written much on the subject of knowing where your food comes from and says, ” shake the hand that feeds you.” In essence, know where your food comes from and how it is handled before you eat it.
This is not to say that all restaurants violate food safety or nutrition rules. There are many places that offer nutritionally dense, organic, well prepared foods that are not only nourishing but safe.
Pollan states that even when he went deep into the heart of darkness of the American food system, he still came out eating.
But this reassurance that what we are eating is healthy and safely prepared comes at a price. It is unlikely that you will find it on a $5.99 buffet line.
Pollan notes that our food landscape at present is very “treacherous” and must be well navigated. This can apply not only to the nutrition that food provides but also how it is stored and handled.
Who Regulates Food Safety in Restaurants?
Our “trusted” friends at the FDA regulate restaurant safety and distribute guidelines for food preparation and storage. Over 1 million restaurants, hospitals and schools fall under these rules. The following are main areas that are covered with regards to food safety.
Safe Food Storage: Storing food at proper temperatures is critical to eliminating biological hazards such as bacteria and parasitic microorganisms. Staff must be trained in safe practices and procedures, and signs must be posted for different types of food.
Safe Food Preparation: The FDA recommends that restaurants focus on three types of food preparation processes; no-cook foods, same day service foods and foods that require complex preparation. Rules for preparing these foods focus on handling and cooking temperatures.
Human Contact: It is possible that restaurant workers can spread foodborne illness, so the FDA lists safety precautions such as gloves, hand washing, hair nets, cutting board rules and other sanitation guidelines.
Food Allergies: Many customers become sick after eating in restaurants because of food allergies to such things as fish, eggs, tree nuts, wheat and peanuts. Restaurants must provide information about these foods to customers with regards to storage and preparation.
Food Safety Management System: The management at the Golden Corral must have missed this course. This is a safety system that the FDA recommends for managing every step of food storage and preparation. It has been designed to prevent food borne illness and ensure safe preparation.
We are pretty sure that it does not include using the area by the dumpster as a food storage site!
Keep in mind that these regulations are only as good as the people who enforce them, and food safety inspections are announced visits, leaving plenty of time for violating establishments to clean up their act.
A statement released by the Golden Coral stated that the manager of the Golden Corral in question has been terminated and that none of the food was served to customers.
No matter what the outcome here, this story has a broader meaning for all who eat outside of the home. What we cannot see, we do not know, and what we do not know can hurt us!
-The Alternative Daily