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Sanitation and Safety on the Road

SafeFood© - Sanitation and Safety on the Road

It is that time of year for road traveling – over the hill and through the woods and all of that. My family made our annual trek of 1500 miles to grandma’s (and grandpa’s) house recently and a few observations seemed worthy of mentioning.

First off – G and B (gas and bathroom) stops. As fellow road warriors know, most gas stations now are also convenience stores and even quick service chains all in one. Our first stop was a prime location off an interstate, but the facility itself had clearly seen better days as the Salad Bar here sign stenciled on the window was starting to flake off. However, no gas lines and easy access trumped appearances. Fortunately, the ladies room was somewhat clean and did have running water and soap (although I don’t go anywhere without my own stash of Kleenex and mini bar of soap). This stop made me think Mr. Rogers was on to something with his indoor/outdoor shoes routine. Mission accomplished - on the road again.

When selecting restaurants, a short mental checklist is used as the basis for decision making. Exterior checks: clean and maintained; good lighting; available parking; and well-kept trash area (i.e. dumpster lid shut) is the trash area picked up and dumpster lid shut. Are the bathrooms clean and are essential supplies available – toilet paper, soap, warm water, and towels etc. A bonus is if the door handle allows for exiting without recontamination of hands. A few years back, we walked into a place where they were in operation without an available water supply – so there are times when the “rules” are not followed. We choose a casual dining, chain restaurant. I was faced with a dilemma when the hamburger I had ordered arrived pretty rare, rather than the medium well I had requested. Do I send it back and risk the unseen wrath of the cook (who might express his frustration with an action expressly forbidden in Food Code)? What would a SafeFood Advocate do?

Next stop was selection of place for lodging. Because we had gone the corporate route for dinner, we stayed at a locally owned motel with free wireless internet. From the exterior, the place looked a bit shabby but ok. Once we checked into the rooms, it was obvious there had been some renovations a while back but more of surface only – things were a bit sleazy. The smell of smoke clung to the bedspreads (non-smoking room), the sheets were a bit threadbare, and dust flew off the lampshade when it was accidently touched. The dusty ash tray in the bathroom holding the itsy bitsy amenity bottle of shampoo – remember this is a non-smoking room – summed it up pretty well. Next morning’s continental breakfast consisted of coffee and unpackaged bagels, homemade cookies (where and how were they made?) and other items thrown on a shelf in a closet. Not too appetizing. I think I will wait for our G & B break!
Catherine Strohbehn 12/26/07