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Study finds 1 in 7 would fail kitchen inspection

Results based on Internet quiz

By Mike Stobbe
Associated Press / September 3, 2010

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ATLANTA — Could your kitchen at home pass a restaurant inspection?

New research suggests that at least one in seven home kitchens would flunk the kind of health inspection commonly administered to restaurants.

The small study from California’s Los Angeles County found that only 61 percent of home kitchens would get an A or B if put through the rigors of a restaurant inspection. At least 14 percent would fail.

“I would say if they got below a C, I’m not sure I would like them to invite me to dinner,’’ said Dr. Jonathan Fielding, director of the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health.

In comparison, nearly all Los Angeles County restaurants — 98 percent — get A or B scores.

The study, released yesterday, is believed to be one of the first to offer a sizable assessment of food safety in private homes. But the researchers admit the way it was done is hardly perfect.

The results are based not on actual inspections, but on an Internet quiz taken by about 13,000 adults.

So it’s hard to use it to compare the conditions in home kitchens to those in restaurants, which involve trained inspectors giving objective assessments of dirt, pests, and food storage and handling practices.

What’s more, experts don’t believe the study is representative of all households, because people who are more interested and conscientious about food safety are more likely to take the quiz.

“You’ll miss a big population who don’t have home computers or just really don’t care’’ about the cleanliness of their kitchens, said Martin Bucknavage, a food safety specialist.

A more comprehensive look would probably find that an even smaller percentage of home kitchens would do well in a restaurant inspection, he suggested.

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