Many Parents Say Restaurant Fare Has Made Kids Sick: Poll

mother and sick son
mother and sick son

MONDAY, May 21, 2018 (HealthDay News) -- American moms and dads work hard to prevent food poisoning at home, but 10 percent say their kids have gotten sick after eating bad food elsewhere.

In a new poll by C.S. Mott Children's Hospital at the University of Michigan, parents peg restaurants as the usual source of spoiled or contaminated food (68 percent). Surprisingly, though, just 1 in 4 parents pays attention to restaurant health ratings when they take the family out to eat.

Other places where kids got sick from bad food were school (21 percent), a friend's home (14 percent) and potlucks (11 percent).

"In most cases children recover quickly from food poisoning, but in certain cases it can be debilitating," poll co-director Dr. Gary Freed said in a hospital news release. For very young children, whose immune systems are not fully developed, there's a higher risk of serious complications, he added.

Among parents of kids who got sick from food, only a third said it happened at home. That's because most moms and dads work hard to keep their kitchens safe.

For example, 87 percent say they wash their hands before preparing a meal; 80 percent wash fruits and vegetables before serving; and 84 percent say they always check for expiration dates on refrigerated foods.

If a product is more than two days past expiration, 57 percent of parents say they smell or taste it to see if it is OK to eat, while 43 percent toss it.

Foodborne illness strikes more than 48 million Americans every year, most often caused by toxins, parasites, viruses and bacteria such as salmonella and E. coli, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Symptoms, which can start anywhere from an hour to three days after eating bad food, include diarrhea, vomiting and sometimes fever or muscle aches.

Rigorous hand washing, proper food storage and kitchen cleanliness help reduce the risk. Diligently checking restaurant inspection ratings also can help when dining out, the pollsters said.

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