Buffets are popular for good reason. What other kind of restaurant offers unlimited servings and an array of nearly every food you could ever want? From sushi to stacks of desserts and steaks to seafood, buffets tend to have absolutely everything. And diners are free to eat until they’re literally too stuffed to move, which gives you a lot of bang for your buck.
But here’s the thing about buffets. They seem great at first glance. And the food is certainly delicious. Yet underneath the surface, buffets can be dangerous, dirty, and downright disgusting.
Buffets are nothing like traditional restaurants. There are lines of people, trays and trays of food sitting out, and a “help yourself” approach that puts diners in charge of their servings and plates. And that freedom leads to plenty of gross and grimy situations. Even though a buffet might seem clean and fresh, here are the disgusting facts happening behind the scenes — or right on your plate — at every buffet.
Serving Utensils Aren’t Washed as Often as You Think
When you reach for the serving utensils sitting out on a buffet line, you know that plenty of other people have touched them. But those utensils also get cleaned regularly — right?
Actually, buffet serving utensils don’t get as clean as you think. They are regulated: according to restaurant regulations, tongs or utensils that fall onto the ground must be replaced with a clean, new utensil. But unfortunately, there are no rules or regulations about how often they must be washed.
So, when food sits out on a buffet all day, the same utensils sit out too. That means people are constantly touching the utensils you’ll use to serve yourself. They can get incredibly germy, especially if people who don’t wash their hands use them.
Sneeze Guards Don’t Actually Protect the Food from Germs
Sneeze guards are a pretty great invention. After all, they were designed for a pretty gross purpose — to protect food that’s sitting out from getting absolutely covered in filth and germs. And they do literally keep people from sneezing directly into the food.
But here’s the thing. Sneeze guards aren’t effective as they might seem. While they do a great job at preventing people from breathing on buffet foods, they do nothing to stop people. Plenty of buffet diners will duck underneath sneeze guards to see food more closely, and in the process they get their bacteria or germs onto the food anyway.
And there’s nothing sneeze guards can do about kids. Kids are too short for sneeze guards to be effective, so any children who are sneezing and sniffling are going to contaminate the food.