Foodie to City: Go Feed Yourself

In Friday’s New York Times, foodie Steven A. Shaw, author of Turning the Tables: The Insider’s Guide to Eating Out, tosses down the gauntlet on the city’s recent restaurant crackdown. Noting that flies, sheep, pigs and cows carry more potential for disease than do rats–the fears of which touched off the crackdown–Mr. Shaw then unveiled the greatest threat to New York City’s eating: New Yorkers.

“Restaurants, moreover, are not the primary source of the food we eat. Most meals, even in the dining-obsessed culture of New York City, are taken in the home. We tend to think of our own kitchens as clean, but research published in 2004 by Janet Anderson of Utah State University paints a different picture.

“Professor Anderson filmed 100 people preparing a meat entree and a salad at home. The subjects were told they were being observed for chicken and meatloaf recipes, but the study was actually about food safety. Of the 100 cooks, fewer than 50 washed their hands before preparing food; 30 failed to clean their cutting boards; 82 undercooked the chicken; 46 undercooked the meatloaf; and 24 didn’t store raw meat on the bottom shelf of the refrigerator (to keep any leaking juices from dripping onto other food).”

So there: Worry about yourself in your kitchen, and not some scrum of rats running lose in the neighborhood diner. And for the city?

“Rats in restaurants shouldn’t be ignored, but health officials should be prioritizing and educating, rather than making decisions based on which YouTube videos upset people the most.”

- Tom Acitelli