Customers can help keep food buffets safe

Use good food safety practices when eating food at self-serve food bars.

Do you enjoy dining out at buffet restaurants or other venues where you serve food for yourself?  Buffets, salad bars and self-serve food options at restaurants and grocery stores are a great option when you are in a hurry to eat a meal and you would like to have a variety of food to choose from. Customers can be the greatest threat to food safety at these types of food choices by using a dirty plate to refill with food, touching food on the buffet, not using the provided utensils to serve themselves, etc.  Being familiar with food safety will help keep the food safe and tasty.

When you serve yourself at a buffet, salad bar or other self-service food setting, help keep the food safe for yourself and others by following a few simple rules:

  • Use tools provided for handling food such as plastic or metal tongs for bakery items, salad items and other individual food items.
  • Keep your head above the “sneeze guard” which protects foods from contamination.
  • Always take a clean plate when returning for refills at a buffet or salad bar. 
  • Do not use a serving spoon or other serving utensils for foods other than the food it was intended to serve.  Allergens such as seafood and nuts can be transferred from one food to another via the utensil if it is used for a food containing allergens and then used in another food which does not contain the allergen.
  • Always close the glass door on the display case holding items such as bakery rolls, cookies and other similar items once you have retrieved the items of your choice.
  • Use the deli sheets provided for handling bakery items.
  • If you accidentally drop food on the floor, look for an employee to help you with the contaminated item.
  • Assist young children at the food bar; they don’t always know the proper way to handle food on a buffet.

When customers use good food safety practices while eating at self-service locations, everyone benefits in the long run.

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