In the restaurant industry, the risk of foodborne illness is very real. As evidenced by the whack-a-mole approach Chipotle is taking to prevent its customers from getting food poisoning (with varied success), if one sick person comes in to work and doesn’t take necessary precautions, hundreds of people can be sickened with nasty foodborne viruses. That’s why, if you’re the slightest bit concerned about the cleanliness of a restaurant, you should take a trip to the bathroom.
Because most restaurants won’t let you take more than a cursory peek into the kitchen, the bathroom is the next-best way to determine how clean a restaurant is overall. If the restroom is absolutely pristine, that means that someone regularly takes the time to give it a scrubbing, and that the kitchen most likely gets the same treatment. If it’s a festering pigsty, that might mean that the part of the restaurant that’s off-limits to the general public is even worse.
In most restaurants, the dining room restroom is the only one on the premises; not many have room in the kitchen for a staff-only restroom. (That’s why nearly all restaurant bathrooms have signs telling employees to wash their hands before returning to work.) So if there’s no soap in the soap dispenser, the odds are pretty good that the folks who are about to prepare your food haven’t thoroughly washed their hands.
Sure, they might wear gloves, they might have washed their hands with soap at a different sink in the kitchen, they might have used Purell… but do you really want to take that risk?
So if you visit a restaurant bathroom and notice that it’s not clean and the soap dispenser is empty, you should probably high-tail it out of there. That's a surefire way to avoid food poisoning, along with these 15 other tips.