Saturday, October 6, 2012

Eat at your own risk?

I just spent a week in Miami attending the 6th American Society for Microbiology Biofilms Conference.  Over 400 biofilm microbiologists met to discuss all aspects of biofilm research.

Of course, nobody can sit in a darkened room and listen to heavy duty research papers all day for a week, and food microbiologists always have to investigate the local food and beverage outlets!

A couple of menus caught my eye.  One was on the waterfront in Downtown, where raw food seemed to be the major offering.  Another was in one of the glorious sidewalk restaurants on Ocean Drive.  Both had almost identical wording:
"Consuming raw or undercooked hamburgers, meats, poultry, seafood, shellfish or eggs may increase your risk of foodborne illness, especially if you have certain medical conditions".

All good, and if you want to eat such delicacies, you need to be informed of the risks.  Consumption of any of these foods can potentially lead to illness.  Consumers are totally dependent on the purity of the raw materials and the water from which they are sourced, as well as the hygiene of preparation; a range of bacteria and viruses can be found in raw foods.

I wonder what Bill Marler would have to say about such a disclaimer - is the restaurant owner absolved of responsibility, assuming they take reasonable care in preparation, if a customer can show that they became ill as a result of eating the raw or rare-cooked food?

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