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Jun 22, 2008 05:43 PM

Unwashed hands handling your food.. What would you do?

Greetings all

I posted this already in the Toronto forum already but nobody responded, which I am surprised at, and am wondering what the general majority of you would do

Tonight I was getting a couple take-out chickens from a popular Portuguese rotisserie spot; I ordered 2 chickens for $20 as I always do, and proceeded to wait while the food was taken off the grill/rotiserrie and cut up.

Here is where I'm having problems..

The lady who literally was just handling my money, and was digging around in various bills and handling each coin of change individually to return my change, proceeded to take her hands and man-handle the chicken. Why I choose this word is because she takes a very "hands on" approach of handling each chicken by grabbing each one and cutting it with chicken shears, effectively getting her hands and fingers all over each piece of chicken.

This goes on for more than one customer in a row while I'm waiting, and as if by fluke of nature, she happens to spill some soup for the person served directly before me, forcing her to FINALLY wash her hands before cutting up my chicken.

I quietly thank God and make my escape, but can't help think.. I wouldn't want to be rude and tell the older lady "hey, wash your hands, that is gross" but on the other hand.. I don't really want hands that were making cash transactions all day to be all over my chicken

Am I over-reacting?

Would anyone else agree?

What would you do?

Thanks for reading

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  1. Duck -- You are not over-reacting. I always wonder, though, what goes on behind closed kitchen doors. Like you, Seinfeld was lucky enough to see Poppy's failure to wash after using the bathroom then proceed to the kitchen. The downside of this attitude is to eat mostly at home which is what I do especially during rampant flu and cold epidemics (having a compromised immune system). I'll be interested to read what others would do. I think I would refuse the food and quietly say why.

    2 Replies
    1. re: mickie44

      "Poppy got a little sloppy!"

      Sometimes it's better not to know.

      1. re: mickie44

        See, the thing about that that always bothered me was that they never showed the kitchen. Knowing they'll have to wash their hands when they re-enter the food area, some people don't wash their hands in the bathroom AND the food area.

        When I worked food service, my hands would become so dried out from washing them approximately every half hour with the antibacterial soap. It got to the point where I had to convince myself to wash my hands in the bathroom, knowing in a minute I'd be washing them in the food area. But ou know, food service workers have to "keep up appearances."

        One place I worked required hair nets. To combat the concern that employees weren't wearing hair nets, the company switched a ugly, brown, matronly hair nets.

      2. Im the crazy lady who says exscuse me - could you please wash your hands. I find it awkward but Im not willing to get sick. If I am in a line and have't paid I will ussually skip the whole thing entirely - Can you imagine what they must be doing in the back?
        Ive worked in kitchens my whole life - some things bother me more than others. The money thing always gets me, the wiping of the face/body with hands, basic cross contamination - putting the burger on the grill and grabbing the bun - no glove - no wash.....happens a lot. I think we need to speak up more about real issues like that.

        6 Replies
        1. re: coastie

          And that's the thing --

          I think it would only take one person to become visibly upset or ask for their money back for this reason before they might be more careful or more diligant in the future

          I just don't want to be a jerk to the poor lady

          1. re: coastie

            My son put himself through university working in restaurants, everything from line cook to waitstaff and bartending and it always amazed me that they expected people to appear for work no matter how contagious they might be. Is it always like that in your experience, coastie?

            1. re: mickie44

              Always. I have been made to work - while i was throwing up in a trash can - I have been made to work when I was written out of work for 4 days.
              Im a fanatic about handwashing and I know my employees think Im a freak . I covered the faucet with plastic wrap to catch a non handwasher that was always telling me she had just washed....She quit when she was caught lying about it - and everyone decided I was seroius. THe problem is we pay these people minimun wage or a bit more - they don't care. (Not everyone - lots of people care a lot)
              As far as the working sick - its not like other industries - you are asked to work sick and even if you want to call in , odds are good you'll be asked to show a doctors note( usually unisured) and that you don't have sick day pay to spend. I had sick day pay once in my 20 years ( oddly thats where I was made to work when I had doctors note)
              I really look for some industry changes but it means we'll be paying even more for our food.

              1. re: coastie

                uh, no-- it is against health code to have anyone handling food at the same time as "throwing up in a trash can." anyone vomiting, whether it's the flu, a reaction to medication, or a hangover, needs to go the eff home. if it's a hangover and i gotta send 'em home, they'll probably get fired. even the crummiest bars will send a puking cook home and shut down their 1-man kitchen rather than risk giving everyone food poisoning/norovirus and getting their whole establishment closed by the health dept. i can't imagine having a puking cook on the line any more than having someone bleeding profusely from their head into the food. no food manager would allow that. except at subway:


                1. re: soupkitten

                  I wish it were as simple as that. My food manager made me - its was leave and lose your job. This happened to me about 14 yrs ago but have seen many times and I don't work at Subway type places. I do send my cooks home now that I have my own place and can just cover the shift myself - its good for me to be on the line now and then.
                  I have seen it all - when I reported a breakfast cook for scratching his ass with his spatula - I was accused of rocking the boat. My fellow employees were all told that I told - I was the only girl it was hell. I quit shortly after....really I wish it was a simple as a food code and people listening. But you get the cook who hides it because they have missed too many days because of a drinking or other problem. You get the manager who has no way to cover the shift so asks the cook to hang on for and hour or 2 till the relief can be called. OR the cook thats come to work hung over so many time sno one knoews the difference. Boy who cried wolf syndrome - hes told if he goes home hes done - so he stays, sick because he can't lose yet another job.
                  It happens a lot - way too much. The place I was made to stay while I was sick in a trash can - 3 hours while a cook was called is a corporate hotel with a 4 star restaurant in it.....I was a kid - I can stand up for myself now. But I was told those magic words if you go home don't come back.

                  1. re: soupkitten

                    I currently have an open kitchen so my customer can see everything . I like it that way keeps my cooks honest

            2. No, you're not overreacting. Most health departments I know of would issue a citation for such food-handling. If they're that ignorant about running a restaurant, they should be in some other business. Absolutely not tolerable.

              1. Gross. I'd skip it. And, then, if you really like the place, contact the manager and tell him or her what the problem is - maybe they'll change the set up as a result. If not, for me, it would be a no-go. I'm the lady who reported an expediter who delivers food to the table who had his thumb in my plate and it was a filthy thumb (with dirt under his nails) at that. I reported him to the manager. Never happened again with that guy. I also asked a nurse who was about to draw my blood, who was not wearing gloves, and who had just touched the garbage can lid with those hands, to please wash them before taking my blood. Never went back to that dr's office.

                3 Replies
                1. re: Bite Me

                  I'm not sure. Since I assume disgusting things go on behind the scenes, and pests are leaving their feces every which way but loose, I'm not sure.

                  I figure my life is in the hands of providence anyway when I eat out, so what the heck. If the food is good, I'd keep going back.

                  1. re: dolores

                    I am shocked to say that I agree, dolores. It can be mind over matter sometimes, but if the food is good, I'll probably be back.

                    The thing I can't stand is seeing someone touch raw meat, then not wash their hands/change gloves, then prepare ready-to-eat food. That's a deal-breaker for me.

                    1. re: dolores

                      That's exactly how I feel.

                      I'm a firm believer that we've become a bit too germophobic in our society anyways, shaking things up in your body can serve to make you stronger - not to mention the deleterious effect all of the antibacterial everything has on things.

                      A little dirt here or there ain't gonna kill ya (well, probably not).

                  2. The jfoods are the people who ask the preparer for a new pair of gloves before they make their sandwiches if they are also handling the money.

                    If they touch the money before preparing jfood's food and do not change the gloves, jfood pulls a Snagglepuss "Exit stage left." Thanks but no thanks.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: jfood

                      I'm with you 100%. Filthy lucre and food are not my combo of choice! In my own kitchen, I'm an obsessive hand-washer, and I expect not less of food purveyors.