Article: “Look through restaurant haze for health menu” (Jul.2006)

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excerpt:
“Don’t think that the plan to make Chicago restaurants smoke-free by 2008 will automatically turn restaurants into temples of health.

We know about cigarette smoke’s link to cancer. Yet the most recent statistics from the national Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show that heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States–more than all cancers combined–and diet often is to blame.

You might even think you’re eating right when you’re eating out, but very likely not. Ald. Edward Burke recognized that, though his proposal to ban artery-clogging trans fats in Chicago restaurants was greeted with a chorus of groans.

So what can you do?”

source: “Look through restaurant haze for health menu” by Susan Kutchin Pallant (Chicago Tribune, Jul.23,2006)

Article: “Food poisoning can be avoided” (Jul.2006)

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excerpt:
“Food poisoning is becoming an increasingly common occurrence due to the fact that people are traveling and eating out more than they used to. Symptoms of food poisoning can vary, ranging from onset within 30 to 60 minutes after eating (usually in cases of chemical contaminants in food) to up to 12 to 48 hours in cases of bacterial food poisoning.

…According to gastroenterologist Dr. Mark Pimentel, author of the new bestselling book “A New IBS Solution,” the following tips minimize your risk of contracting food poisoning…”

source: “Food poisoning can be avoided” (Daily Press, Jul.12,2006)

Web Site: HealthyDiningFinder.com

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“Do you love to eat out? Are you looking for restaurants that offer a selection of healthier menu items? If so, then you’ve come to the right place, but a little too soon! Please enter your e-mail address below, and we’ll notify you when the website is accessible. You’ll find a wonderful selection of great-tasting, healthier menu items from restaurants nationwide, ranging from quick-serve to fine dining and representing dozens of types of cuisines.”

link: HealthyDiningFinder.com

HealthyDiningFinder site is associated with the National Restaurant Association (Note: HealthyDiningFinder site is not affiliated with TeamWaiterBell or WaiterBell). For a demo of the site in action, click here.

Update (9/4/06):

Then you’re invited to preview this new website, which will officially launch in January 2007. Please visit often, as this website continues to grow with more restaurants – from quick-serve to fine dining – and other frequent updates.”

link: HealthyDiningFinder.com

Advice: “What Are Some Good Foods To Choose When Dining Out?”

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excerpt:
"What are some good foods to choose when dining out? Our forum members share some great tips and details of the good and not so good world of restaurant food. Find some favorites and alternatives right here!

When going out to eat there are a lot of temptations to resist. Whether your at an a diner, restaurant, buffet, or a fast food place you must wisely choose your meals.

Do you choose your restaurants before going out so that you know they will have a healthy dish for you or do you pick from whatever options you have at that particular restaurant?"

source: "What Are Some Good Foods To Choose When Dining Out?" (Bodybuilding.com)

Article: “Doggie dining gets governor’s stamp of approval” (June 2006)

excerpt:
"Surrounded by yapping hounds and yapping politicians, Bush signed a bill that allows cities to grant permission to restaurant owners who want to open their patio dining rooms to four-legged customers.

…Like other restaurants downtown, Sam Snead's had built a loyal following of furry customers on its outdoor patio. Dog owners could browse from a "Furry Friends Menu," including chicken and kibble and bow-wow pizza served on a complimentary Frisbee.

…Under the new law, which takes effect immediately, cities may enact ordinances allowing restaurants to apply for permission to open their patio doors to dogs."

source: "Doggie dining gets governor's stamp of approval" by Mark Schlueb (Orlando Sentinel, Jun.3,2006)

Article: “Study – Bargain meals actually cost you” (May 2006)

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excerpt:
"…a pair of Wisconsin researchers has calculated how that jumbo-sized restaurant “bargain” meal deflates your wallet while it inflates your stomach.

The answer is between $3.10 and $7.72 based on only three hidden costs, say researchers Dale Schoeller, a professor of nutritional sciences at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and Rachel Close, a research assistant. Their findings will be published in June in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition.

…The three costs which Schoeller and Close used were driving a vehicle, medical care, and the need for extra food to supply the energy to maintain that extra weight. There were other costs that could have been included but which they rejected for one reason or another, Schoeller said."

source: "Study: Bargain meals actually cost you" by David Steinkraus (Journal Times, May 27,2006)

Article: “Check online, then dine” (May 2006)

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excerpt:
"If you like to dine out, be careful how you use the state's new Web site on restaurant health inspections. The site — http://www.ksfoodsafety.org — was unveiled Thursday in Topeka. It allows instant access to two years' worth of inspection records for all 10,300 food service establishments in Kansas.

Users will be hard-pressed to find a restaurant that's never been cited for a violation. And germophobes could quickly scare themselves out of ever dining out again.

But that's not realistic, said Sharon Watson, communications director for the Kansas Department of Health and Environment, which created the site.

It's all about perspective, she said. Diners can rest assured that a restaurant with violations serious enough to pose a public health risk would be shut down until the problems were addressed.

…Information on the site is updated weekly, and users also can file complaints about restaurants.

…But diners should be careful not to misinterpret the information, Watson said.

A restaurant that's been cited for 11 minor violations might actually pose less of a threat than a restaurant that's been cited for one major violation.

"People need to realize that there are different levels of concern," she said. "The violations aren't all the same."

source: "Check online, then dine" by Denise Neil (The Wichita Eagle, May 5,2006) 

Many state and city health departments are putting restaurant inspections online for easy public access.  Here are a few more sites:

New York City Dept. of Health and Mental Hygiene Restaurant Inspection Information

Philadelphia Environmental Health Services Restaurant Inspection

Spies Online's Restaurant Inspection Reports -listed by state

If you can't find restaurant inspections for your city or region online, you may also try contacting your local health department or state restaurant association for more information.