November 12: Restaurant Report

By Heather Sullivan - bio | email


Avoiding the Swine Flu Virus in Restaurants

If you're worried about catching the swine flu, you might be wondering if its safe to eat out in restaurants while so many people have the virus these days. We went to an expert for answers.

If you're in a restaurant and someone is coughing or sneezing, the swine flu virus is airborne, so the Health Department says stay three to six feet away. Explains Dr. Bill Nelson with the Chesterfield Health Department, "If people at the table next to you have the flu or an upper respiratory infection, its entirely ok to ask to have your table moved."

Worried about catching swine flu at a salad bar? Dr. Nelson says if you touch things like ladles or the sneeze guard where someone with swine flu has sneezed, then touch your eyes or nose, you could catch it.

Viruses can also be spread on silverware or glasses, so make sure they're clean and don't share them.

But if the swine flu virus is on food, Dr. Nelson and the Centers for Disease Control say you will not catch it by eating it. Said Dr. Nelson, "It's not really intestinal. You're not going to get the flu by eating something or from the food. But you will get it from touching something that has gotten material on it and then touching your eyes."

Dr. Nelson says wash your hands before you eat and use a towel to open the bathroom door.

Health Department Reminding Restaurants to Stay Clean

Nelson says the Health Department is reminding restaurants to send sick workers home and keep surfaces clean. And that's what restaurants tell us they're doing. Said Charlie Lichter with Bottoms Up Pizza, "We're taking all the necessary precautions that we can, wiping down areas, especially the common areas, restrooms, doorknobs." All steps to help you enjoy eating out without getting sick.

The Health Department says it has no way of tracking whether any swine flu cases were spread at restaurants.

Restaurant Report

Now for the Restaurant Report: Here are local restaurants that had some critical violations, unrelated to swine flu, on their state health inspections and how they've fixed them.
In Chesterfield, Shanghai at 9951 Hull Street Road had 5 critical violations. The inspector says chicken, beef, eggs, and egg rolls were holding at improper temperatures. A follow-up report is not yet available.
In Hanover, Ashland Breakfast and Lunch at 539 South Washington Highway had 4 critical violations, including several utensils used to prepare or store food were soiled with food residue. The manager says all violations were corrected during the inspection to meet the Health Department's requirements. A follow-up report is also not yet available.
This week's Hall of Fame Award goes to Wendy's at 901 East Cary Street in Richmond for perfect scores on their last five health inspections. Co-owner Ted Anderson says this restaurant closely follows corporate procedures for cleaning. Said Anderson, "It's received numerous recognitions from Wendy's International and what they call "Dave's Way," which is a thorough inspection, and they always achieved one of the highest grades."

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