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The closing of a Chipotle restaurant in Virginia recently brought national attention to the issue of food safety and how consumers can avoid foodborne illnesses.
Chipotle was forced to close down a store in Sterling, Virginia, after numerous customers reported suffering from various stomach illnesses with symptoms such as vomiting, nausea and diarrhea. The Loudoun County Health Department confirmed at least one case of norovirus, and approximately 60 confirmed illnesses were reported in total. Health officials were still waiting on further test results in the aftermath of the breakout.
This was not the first time Chipotle has been involved in a health scare. An E. coli outbreak in 2015 prompted a shutdown of several dozen Chipotle restaurants across multiple states. A similar norovirus outbreak at a restaurant in Boston resulted in more than 100 customers becoming ill.
In response to the outbreak, the company introduced a new set of food handling policies in hopes of preventing similar problems in the future.
Steps to avoid foodborne illnesses when eating out
You do not have to stop eating out entirely to avoid getting a foodborne illness. The following are some steps you can take to reduce your chances of getting sick:
Smell test: If your food smells unusual or foul in any way, it’s not worth taking a chance on it. Do not eat food that does not pass the smell test.
Take care with takeout: Do not leave takeout food or leftovers unrefrigerated for long. Germs can grow on food within just two hours if it’s not refrigerated quickly.
Code: Any restaurant you eat at should be up to code. You can ask the restaurant to verify that it has met all required safety standards.
Watch food preparers: You should be concerned if the person preparing your food is not wearing gloves. This is especially noticeable at restaurants like Chipotle or Subway, where the food is prepared right in front of you.
Careful what you eat: Any time you eat raw or undercooked meat or fish, you run the risk of being infected with listeria or other bacteria. Eat these items at your own risk.
Wash your hands: Always wash your hands with hot, soapy water before you eat. This will help you drastically reduce your risk of consuming bacteria that could cause you harm.
Consider timing: You can always be sure your food has been freshly cooked at busy meal times. You are more likely to consume older food that’s been sitting out for a while if you get takeout at off hours or right before a store closes.
For further guidance on taking legal action if you have suffered a foodborne illness at a restaurant, meet with a skilled New York personal injury attorney at Robinson & Yablon, P.C.