12/02/2016 | John Brennan

Going out to dinner this valentine’s day? Here are the risky foods you might want to avoid

12/02/2016 | John Brennan

Going out to dinner this valentine’s day? Here are the risky foods you might want to avoid

A romantic meal for two might sound like a clichéd way to spend Valentine’s Day, but wining and dining with your other half remains one of the most popular ways to celebrate Cupid’s big day. During the run up to the fourteenth of Feb, restaurants often receive record booking numbers — with the best tables for two snapped up within a week of the calendar date.

If you’re one of the many millions heading to your favourite eatery this Valentine’s Day, remember — just because you’re on a romantic date doesn’t mean you’re impervious to food poisoning. According to a recent poll by Food.gov, 36% of people fear getting food poisoning over being dumped (29%) on Valentine’s Day — so do your research before you book to avoid being hit with anything but the lovebug.

Still worried about contracting food poisoning during a romantic Valentine’s date? Here’s a list of the riskiest foods to gorge on during a meal out.

Sous Vide Chicken Dishes

Of all the foods to cause poisoning, chicken is perhaps the most infamous. When served undercooked, chicken may contain traces of bacteria including campylobacter and salmonella, both of which are known causes of food poisoning.

While cases of food poisoning from chicken dishes are now reasonably uncommon, one up-and-coming culinary technique is thought to be responsible for a rise in chicken-related poisoning — and that’s sous vide cooking.

Sous vide involves sealing the food in a vacuum bag before cooking it slowly in a bath of water. While this technique offers great texture and flavour, doubts have been raised about its safety given the low temperature at which the meat is cooked. Our advice? Avoid sous vide chicken dishes and plump for something baked, fried or grilled instead.

Undercooked Burgers

Generations of old might frown upon those who plump for a burger during a Valentine’s date, but this all-American staple has become more widely accepted in recent times — with even the swankiest restaurants now serving up their version of the classic burger.

Before you order yourself a classic cheeseburger however, it’s worth asking your waiter about how exactly the patty is cooked and prepared. As recently reported on the Shieldyourself blog, undercooked burgers can pose a risk of food poisoning — with some undercooked, pink-in-the-middle patties reported to contain bacteria such as E.coli. To remove the risk of poisoning from your hearty Valentine’s burger, ask for it cooked well.

Shellfish

Shellfish such as oysters, lobster and shrimp may be a timeless Valentine’s Day delicacy, but they also carry a high risk of food poisoning — particularly when they’re eaten raw.

Before they’re cooked, shellfish are known to contain all sorts of food poisoning-causing bacteria, some of which can cause severe poisoning in some cases. Sure, raw oysters may be regarded as one of the world’s most effective aphrodisiacs, but is eating one raw really worth the risk?

If you’re set on shellfish for your Valentine’s meal, opt for a dish that contains only cooked fish — not raw.

Leafy Greens

If you thought you’d be safe ordering a salad, think again. Leafy greens such as spinach, rocket and lettuce carry a substantial food poisoning risk — largely due to them being contaminated by an animal product during the preparation process.

While we can’t tell you to avoid salad, the restaurant’s food hygiene rating should tell you all you need to know about its food handling and preparation processes. If the rating’s high, leafy greens will doubtless be handled correctly; if it’s low, we’d recommend giving them a wide berth.

Of course, all of the above dishes can be enjoyed without fear of food poisoning this Valentine’s Day — just make sure to choose a restaurant whose food hygiene rating is a 4 or 5.

If you’re a restaurateur struggling to attain a high food hygiene rating, chat to Shieldyourself today about how we can help you achieve full compliance. You can do so by visiting our homepage or calling us on 020 3432 9544.

The information contained in this blog article has been created for marketing purposes and is not official guidance and should not be used as a substitute for official food safety, health and safety or fire safety advice. Shieldyourself take no responsibility if the information in the blog article is used to form part of a safety management system or used to form part of any legal or regulatory compliance for your business. For official guidance and to engage with Shieldyourself services please do call our team on 020 3740 3744 or email sales@shieldsafety.co.uk.