valentines-dinnerI met the love of my life years before I became a bit too paranoid about dinning out. Yet, with my thoughts on the six foods I do not eat going viral world-wide, I was asked recently how to protect your Valentine’s Day date from barfing or experiencing diarrhea – clearly, neither a great start to a romantic evening. So, here are the things that are available to the romantic diners in all of us: Before you make the reservation:

  1. Check Yelp, Urban Spoon, Facebook, Twitter – social media is a great way to figure out safer places to eat – if people are complaining, look somewhere else for that date place.
  2. Perhaps go the day before Valentine’s Day – having a packed house is not necessarily conducive to a safe food evening.
  3. Online Health Department Inspection Reports – more and more cities and counties allow you to see past inspections of the restaurant – here the past is a good indication of the quality of your meal.

When you show up:

  1. Score on the Door – it is not hard to get an A in the restaurant business, and if there is not an A on the door, walk away.
  2. If you are the only ones there – perhaps someone knows something you do not – again, walk away.
  3. Is the restaurant clean – and, if the lights were turned up, would it still look clean – if not, walk away.

If you are still there, order drinks and excuse yourself to the bathroom:

  1. Is the bathroom clean and well supplied and does the bathroom door open out (so you do not have to touch the handle) – if not, have your drink and ask for your check.

Ok, if you made it this far and your date has not left you:

  1. Order things that are simple – well done meats and cooked vegetables, and a good glass of wine.

The good news is that even if you have ingested a pathogen, the incubation period (time from ingestion to first symptoms) is days and not hours. Here is to romance without vomiting and diarrhea.   (To sign up for a free subscription to Food Safety News, click here.)