The first thing you need to know about this study is that it appears in the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. You probably never thought cooking at home could be a life and death situation, did you?
Well, an online survey of 13,000 adults conducted by the Los Angeles County of Public Health (LACDPH) indicates that 1 in 7 kitchens are not up to code. In other words, they would not pass a health inspection that restaurants routinely receive. About 98 percent of restaurant kitchens in Los Angeles receive a passing grade each year.
It’s easy to worry about what’s going on behind the closed doors of the corner restaurant. But it turns out most of the harm caused by food-borne illness is a product of uncleanly kitchens and mistakes made by home chefs.
The LACDPH survey involved 45 yes or no questions. Anyone who scored 90 percent or more received an A grade (34 percent of respondents), 80 percent or more received a B grade (27 percent of respondents), and 70 percent or more received a C grade (25 percent). About 14 percent failed to score a passing C grade.
The results of the survey revealed that 26 percent of home cooks have shelves and cabinets that are not clean and dust-free, 36 percent do not have a fridge thermometer that works correctly, 28 percent do not remove jewelry or keep nails trimmed when cooking, and a total of 20 percent of participants either had flies, cockroaches or rodents in their kitchen.
All of a sudden, eating out just became more appetizing.
The editors of the survey report note that the results probably skew toward MORE cleanliness than you would find in the average kitchens in America. This is because those who take the survey are likely to have an interest in keeping a clean kitchen. Many home cooks probably do not care much about a clean kitchen and would not be inclined to take the survey.
There are an estimated 87 million cases of food-borne illnesses in the U.S. every year. Of those, well over 350,000 cases involve hospitalization and another 5,700 people die from their illnesses.
Food may be sustenance, but it could belong in the same sentence as mortality after all.
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