And now for a selection of general comments from readers who replied to my question: Restaurant Inspections: Does Publishing The Results Do Any Good?
From Susan G.S. (writing while on holiday in Hawaii)
There are some things in restaurants that make me want to lose my lunch:
1. Wiping the table with a dirty cloth. Each table should be cleaned with a one use Clorox-type wipe.
2. When food is underdone and returned to the kitchen, it comes back with the diner's original knife cuts. Where has it been cooked? Who knows how many times the diner has placed his/her fork in the food and in his/her mouth. Most likely the item is thrown on the same cooking surface which is used to prepare fresh food.3. Doggie bags should be handed to the customer who then should handle the leftover. I don't want a bus boy who has been cleaning dirty tables or handling dirty dishes to handle my food.4. Servers should be taught and mandated to refill glasses without putting the spout on the customer's glass or in the liquid. This refill pitcher is being dunked into everyone's glass. I don't want to share my beverages and germs with everyone in the restaurant.5. I hate using condiments that have touched other people's food.6. Rest room signs that say employees must wash hands before returning to work are very encouraging to the diner,7. As is seeing the waiter covering his/her mouth with his/her hand before handing you food or silverware.8. Restrooms should provide towels and waste cans near the exit door so those who do wash their hands aren't contaminated by those who didn't.9. And, lastly, for now, is the joy of unwrapped mints at the cashier's counter. There was a study a number of years ago which quoted the amount of urine found in these dishes.
We were at the ADA Annual meeting in Honolulu last week and still have 5 more days in Maui. I have now so nauseated myself at the thought of all of those meals until we get home.
From Linny in New South Wales, Australia
1. I wasn't aware we had a "name and shame" policy here in NSW Australia, and there are several restaurants on the list in my local area.
2. I don't think I would be very likely to check online before going to a restaurant. I suppose I would avoid restaurants if I knew they were on the list.
3. My worst food experience was about 15 years ago in a Chinese restaurant in Sydney, when both I and a friend suffered food poisoning from Campylobacter in undercooked and reheated duck. It wasn't until a few days later that I was taken ill, and I didn't make the connection between the duck and my illness. My friend however just happened to be a microbiologist, and was quick to identify and report the problem to the relevant authorities.
4. I think they should flag restaurants with major problems rather than list every minor infraction. I don't think a couple of cockroaches in a tropical climate is really much to worry about!
And the last word goes to Joy in San Diego, who has developed her own quick test of a restaurant's attention to sanitation:
My method of evaluation. Go to the bathroom. If there is no soap, the staff is not washing their hands eeeeewwww! I go in & check out the men's too. You should see their faces when the men see me coming out of their special room. Especially in Mexico. That's how I learned to swear in Spanish!
If you would like to contribute your thoughts, or describe a restaurant-related food safety experience, please post your comments below, or email them to me directly (click on my Profile to access my email address).