If someone asked you to describe a classy restaurant, youâ€™d probably have a fairly definite image in your head.
Chances areitâ€™ssituated somewhere in Paris, in a room swathed with regal red wallpaper. The tables â€“ all bedecked with white cloths, silver candlestick holders and a vase of roses in their centre â€“ sit below a shimmering chandelier, while moustachioed waiters with slicked back hairattend your beck and call.
But if you look beneath the surface of even the most impressive restaurants, you might find dirt and grime lurking underneath.
Indeed, you simply need to Google â€œrestaurant hygieneâ€ to see the countless number of eateries given zero hygiene ratings every day.
So, before you tuck into your starter snails in that Parisian palace of the palette, what hygiene risks should you watch out for?
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A pristine kitchen : Itâ€™s easy for that luxurious restaurant youâ€™re in to present a comfortable faÃ§ade, only to be kicking rats out of their path and spitting in your food the moment they enter the kitchen.
The only real way to know that theyâ€™re not is to do some sleuthing before your visit. Check that the restaurant youâ€™re visiting regularly hires industrial kitchen cleaners whoâ€™ll undertake floor, appliance and grease trap cleaning to ensure a spick and span operation.
Tantalising as their menu might seem, itâ€™ll be tantamount to swill if itâ€™s filledwith bacteria. So, give their hygiene a thorough scan â€“ whether thatâ€™s online or on the premises â€“ to put your mind at ease.
The right kind of staff : Those subservient servants pouring wine for you at your table might seem wonderful on the surface, but beneath their bristling moustaches and thick foreign accents, what hygiene secrets are they hiding?
A waiter or chef not washing their hands regularly (especially after handling raw meat) could be spreading thousands of bacteria, swarming over your food, into your mouth, down your oesophagus and into your stomach, where itâ€™ll unleash itself like a bacterial time bomb.
No one wants food poisoning with their main course, so keep a close eye on your waiterâ€™s hygiene habits.
The little things : As sentimental fools like to claim, itâ€™s the little things that count â€“ and in a restaurant, that isnâ€™t just a tacky throwaway phrase.
If a fork, for instance, used by hundreds of people before you, isnâ€™t cleaned properly, youâ€™re running the risk of consuming the germs of anyone before you.
The fix to this is simple. All you have to do is thoroughly inspect your cutlery, plates, glasses and table, spotting any stains or dried-in foodstuffs. While itâ€™s not a foolproof plan (germs are too microscopic for the human eye to spot), it is a suitable safeguard.
That way, as you dine under that wonderful chandelier, youâ€™ll know that you can eat and enjoy your meal â€“ without worrying about a stomach bug later.