Coping With Coronavirus 21. Will there be Food Poisoning in Bars & Restaurants after Lockdown?
Boris is talking about easing the Lockdown on Monday.
After many years in catering, I know what goes on behind the scenes.
In my past, I spent several days in Italy, closing down camp sites at the end of the season. If the equipment, tents, fridges, etc weren’t cleaned thoroughly, they would be mouldy by the spring. So we had to clean every inch of everything; under chairs, inside the rubber round fridge doors, etc. This required a lot of use of toothbrushes and lots of cleaning products.
Loyal, hard-working catering staff are worth their weight in gold. It’s not looked on as a serious career in England. Deep cleaning is unknown except for specialised Companies. Unless you’re a respected chef, staff couldn’t care less about their employers. In fact, at least one in ten of them will have their hands in the till, or give their friends free drinks and food. They will do the minimum of cleaning if they can get away with it.
Many bars and restaurants are empty and have been locked up for weeks. There will be mouldy food in some fridges, out of date food and drinks, sticky tables and work surfaces, unswept-up rubbish hidden away everywhere, and the wildlife will move in, scampering over everything.
There are always rats, mice and cockroaches lurking around, and they will find their way in somehow. It’s a constant battle to keep them away, especially in old buildings.
Rats and mice are incontinent. They carry Weils Disease. It kills several people in the UK every year.
Olympic gold medal-winning rower Andy Holmes, died of it in October, 2010.
There is an incubation period that lasts from three days to three weeks, with symptoms including severe headaches, red eyes, muscle pains, fatigue, nausea and a temperature of up to 39C , and possibly a skin rash and hallucinations.
In very severe cases, symptoms include haemorrhaging from the mouth, eyes and internally. There is rapid organ damage of liver and kidney failure within 10 days, leading to jaundice (these are the only cases that can properly be called Weil’s disease). Hospitalisation, followed by antibiotics and often dialysis, will be required if the patient is to survive. Recovery can take months.
It will be a long time before I eat out again, and I shall check out the cleanliness in bars and restaurants before I put anything near my mouth!
A long, hard sniff of the air is a good clue for a start. And do read the dates on your drinks.
Don’t be afraid to ask questions about what measures they have taken to restore their business to a high standard. I know we Brits are reluctant to complain or interfere, but your health could depend on it!