This Fast-Food Restaurant Is the Safest in the Country Right Now

It's outperforming its competitors in every safety category.

It’s been six months since the COVID-19 crisis began fundamentally altering American life, and the virus remains an omnipresent danger. Though many places, like restaurants, gyms, and offices, are open once again, we still need to be careful before choosing to frequent them.

But if the idea of eating at a fast-food joint makes you squirm, you can take comfort in the fact that some places are doing a great job of keeping their customers as safe as possible.

Panda Express restaurant in Victorville, Californiasanfel/Getty Images

Case in point: Panda Express. In September, global research firm Ipsos released the results of a health and safety study assessing how retailers are handling the ongoing crisis. They found that the casual Chinese kitchen Panda Express was outperforming the entire foodservice industry! So if you’re going to go out for a bite, Panda Express’ exceptional performance should give you some peace of mind. When it comes to grocery stores, Whole Foods also outperformed its competitors in health and safety studies.

How, exactly, did Panda Express achieve this high rating? Well, for one thing, Ipsos found that they demonstrated “near-perfect compliance of employees wearing PPE properly.” At a full 96 percent of the locations that Ipsos inspected, employees were wearing masks properly. (The average for the entire food and beverage industry was 89 percent.) The average number of Panda Express locations where employees were wearing gloves, 82 percent, also soared above the industry average, only 72 percent.

And that’s not all they were doing right. Ipsos found that 58 percent of Panda Express locations they visited had one-way entrances and exits, vastly outperforming the industry average of 27 percent. Nearly three-quarters (74 percent) of locations used plastic barriers at service counters. For the whole industry, that percentage just topped half with 56 percent. So Panda Express is doing a good job keeping its employees safe as well as its customers.

And finally, their signage was unmatched as well, with 67 percent of locations using signs to remind customers to social distance. And 63 percent had signs outside the restaurant reminding customers of occupancy limits. For that second statistic, the industry average was only 17 percent. So if you choose to eat at a Panda Express, even indoors, the data shows you’re in good hands. Read on to find the things you absolutely shouldn’t do at reopened restaurants.


  • Ipsos: “New Nationwide Study Reveals Top Performing Brands on COVID-19 Safety: Wells Fargo, Panda Express & Whole Foods Lead Industry Verticals”
Delivery of food made during quarantine at Covid-19.Nid Goloti/Getty Images

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Meghan Jones
Meghan Jones is a word nerd who has been writing for since 2017. You can find her byline on pieces about grammar, fun facts, the meanings of various head-scratching words and phrases, and more. Meghan graduated from Marist College with a Bachelor of Arts in English in 2017; her creative nonfiction piece “Anticipation” was published in the Spring 2017 issue of Angles literary magazine.