A Bellingham Herald analysis of unofficial internal electronic records from the Whatcom County Health Department shows that most restaurant food-related illnesses are caused by workers who don’t wash their hands properly.
In addition, dozens of restaurants and other food service establishments didn’t keep food hot or cold enough, which allows bacteria to multiply quickly.
More than 14 percent of all inspections have been cited regularly for employees not washing their hands prior to handling food.
A state law was enacted on May 2 that now no longer allows bare-hand contact with ready-to-eat food, such as salads, sandwiches, and breads. Despite the law, establishments were still cited 59 times since June for employees touching food with their bare hands.
Food handlers such as chefs not handling food properly actually add more negative points during an inspection than, say, rodents or dirty bathrooms. It’s not as important to an inspector how pretty or clean the place is – it’s more important that the food being served is not going to cause illness or disease to customers.