Have you ever been in a public bathroom when someone exited a stall and made a beeline for the door without stopping to wash their hands? As nasty as that is, just imagine if that person was on his or her way to fix you a nice, juicy cheeseburger. Gulp. Although most fast food and other eateries are dedicated to providing a sanitary dining experience, some leave much to be desired.
Sadly, a cornucopia of foodborne illness risks can rear their ugly heads in the restaurant setting, with cross-contamination and insufficient hand-washing probably being the most likely offenders. Restaurants are governed by their local departments of health, which conduct regular, random inspections. These inspectors are especially interested in measures to prevent foodborne illness including temperature control for high-risk foods, employee hygiene practices and the manager's knowledge of illness prevention measures. Depending on how the inspection goes, the restaurant can be declared awesome via a posted report card, flagged for concerns to varying degrees or temporarily shut down [source: DC.gov].
Since I prefer to come home from an evening out with leftovers, rather than a case of salmonella, I like to at least scan the posted score card. It helps me know if I can dine in peace or if I should run screaming for a safer kitchen.