September 5, 2010

Many Homes Would Fail Restaurant Health Inspections

New research has found that at least one in seven home kitchens would not pass the kind of health inspections administered to restaurants.

California's Los Angeles County found during a study that only 61 percent of home kitchens would get an A or B if put through a restaurant inspection.  It also found that at least 14 percent would fail.

"I would say if they got below a C, I'm not sure I would like them to invite me to dinner," Dr. Jonathan Fielding, director of the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health, told The Associated Press.

About all Los Angeles County restaurants get A or B scores every year.

The study, which is being published in Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, is thought to be one of the first to offer a sizable assessment of food safety in private homes.

The results were based on a 2008 Internet quiz of about 13,000 adults.

Experts do not believe the study is representative of all households, due to people being more interested and conscientious about food safety.

"You'll miss a big population who don't have home computers or just really don't care" about the cleanliness of their kitchens, Martin Bucknavage, a food safety specialist with Penn State University's Department of Food Science, told AP.

He said that a more comprehensive look would probably find that an even smaller percentage of home kitchens would receive an A or B during a restaurant-type inspection.

According to an Associated Press calculation that uses a CDC formula and recent population estimates, about 87 million cases of food-borne illness occur in the U.S. every year, including 371,000 hospitalizations and 5,700 deaths.  

Experts believe the bulk of food poisonings are unreported illnesses from food prepared at home.


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