There I was, prior to ordering anything, in a bathroom at McDowell's (real name not used for obvious reasons) and I was totally grossed out by a puddle of fluid gathered on the floor that stretched from the closed toilet stall to the sink and I couldn't help thinking "My goodness, do the line cooks use this bathroom?". There was no soap in the dispenser, the sink looked filthy, and there was no paper, just a crusty Dyson hand dryer that I did not dare touch, especially after reading about how air hand dryers actually spread germs while drying hands. I knew I had to make a choice, risking the good state my stomach was currently in, or going elsewhere to find grub. I chose the latter, confident in my ritual practice that I always pay the bathroom a visit in every food establishment I go to before ordering anything at all, even when I don't need to use it.
Bad bathrooms are not a rare occurrence in most fast food chains these days, actually it's become almost a hallmark of the industry for bad bathrooms to be present in restaurants, even when the access is controlled or only limited to paying customers. When you ask what drives this issue, the answer is rather simple, cultural acceptance of bad customer service by us as consumers.
Now I rarely frequent fast food shops, and drive thru restaurants make it extremely easy to ignore the internal circumstances behind food delivery, but these days we can't simply ignore the frequency of food borne illness as a trend that threatens our digestion as well as our lives in every setting these days, from cruise ships to chicken shops.
I'm willing to bet that one of the leading causes for cross contamination in modern-day food prep is that in most restaurants, the staff that cleans is also the staff that handles food. This is often eatablished as a cost saving measure by restaurant owners, which makes the books look good until you weigh in the fact that customers don't return after incidents, and that restaurants may even be sued or face a huge setback in business after a breach of public trust incident similar to the one Chipotle had in 2016.
Chipotle is still now suffering financially based on outbreaks of food born illness in 2016 that continued early into 2017, and there is still no sign of recovery for them yet. The incidents of sickness took a very hot audience for their food down to a crawl within just a few months because of safe food handling issues. I'm pretty sure that if leadership was asked about the crisis they would say they wished it never occurred.
The fast food industry has been around a long time, it's surprising to me that they don't manage cleaning better, there are many options for doing so, from the way restrooms and kitchens can be designed, to the tools they use, to outsourcing cleaning duties to companies that specialize in the practice. At the bottom line, the cost is higher than forcing regular employees to be responsible for site cleaning, which proves to be a weak solution that can be much more costly for them and you in the long run.
For your own well being, I advise you to check out the restroom before you order anything in a restaurant, make sure it is clean and neat, and choose to not patronize businesses that don't practice ritual cleanliness, the life you save may be your own.
Restaurants Can Avoid Negative Financial Hits like Chipotle If They Differentiate Themselves With Cleanliness
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