Fancy food isn’t safer food: San Diego edition

The San Diego Union Tribune has a couple of stories today on restaurant inspection, one with the headline, Not-so-fine dining cited at many top restaurants.

When it comes to dining out, an analysis by The San Diego Union-Tribune found that pricier doesn’t always translate into safer.

County inspection records for 103 of San Diego’s most popular, top-rated and most expensive restaurants show that 50 percent have been written up for at least one major food-safety violation in the past two years.

Unfortunately, the story doesn’t analyze how that rate compares with other restaurants in San Diego.

The story does note it’s hard to pinpoint exactly how much of a risk health code violations pose to diners.

When inspectors found water that wasn’t hot enough in restrooms, as was the case twice in the past two years at Island Prime on Harbor Island, they couldn’t say whether food handlers spread bacteria as a result of it.

Except that water temperature is not a factor in hand cleanliness. Flowing water, soap and paper towel are important for effective handwashing.

At The Lodge at Torrey Pines, which has maintained scores of 92 or higher in the past two years, chefs conduct hour-long safety inspections each week using the county’s measurements.

“I truly believe it comes down to pride and culture and good behavior that’s reinforced by good management,” said Bill Gross, the lodge’s food and beverage director. “It starts at the top.”

That I can agree with. Creating and nurturing a culture that values microbiologically safe food, when purchasing and preparing, serving and storing, will help reduce the number of people who get sick from food. Even fancy food.