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Is hair in food "really a health hazard"

OK, so, I don't ever recall going to my Dr. for a hair-borne illness........but in the midst of my 9-layer Super-Bowl dip, i found a hair, again!!!!! So I ask myself, what's the lesser of the 2 evils, double-dipping or the alien hair?

I seem to find hair in everything lately.....in the bottom of my bowl of oatmeal, clinging to a hard-boiled egg, entrenched in my moo-shu pork, suspended in orange marmalade, floating in a bowl of Pho........it's like that Beatle's song....Hair, There, and Everywhere....and it's really beginning to piss me off......but I just deal with it, carefully removing the hair with a fingernail or a cuticle scissor....continuing to eat, but just not the immediate area of the hair finding.......and then I wonder if it was my own hair ( unless it's it's blonde, blue or red, green, yellow, or fuschia-certainly not in my DNA) ....drifting southward from an eyebrow perhaps.......

But i don't really care, because everywhere is hair, a protein that's there, and can be found in a burger, medium rare....look closely next time, if you dare, it may not be human, but bovine my dear GO STEELERS!!!!!!!!!

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  1. Other than the "EWWWW" factor, hair is less of a health risk than other body parts you might find in food. One might wonder about general hygiene habits around food containing hair, but the hair itself is really not a problem.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Sinicle

      I agree. I generally just take it out and continue eating. It happens. My ex, though, was a finicky person and once haughtily walked out on a restaurant because he found one hair in the appetizer in spite of the waitstaff profusely apologizing.

      While I'm willing to let it go with one hair, if I see multiple hairs, that's a different story. Many years ago, I ordered something for delivery and found a small FISTFUL of hair in my food. It looked like one of the cooks was cutting their hair over the food as one end was cut bluntly. And this was not head hair as it was coarser and thicker (probably from a beard or armpit or even worse). I called the restaurant and said that I wanted my money back -- was not in the mood to get another one from THAT restaurant. It irked me when the delivery guy wanted to see the fistful of hair and said, "What's the big deal? You just take it out. See? What's the problem?" I definitely questioned their hygiene habits behind closed doors and never ate there again.

    2. Oh dear gawd...
      My gag reflex, after reading this, is working just fine....thank you very much.

      1. I've really never understood why some people are so grossed out by finding a hair in their food. I'm not saying it's a good thing but it just seems like an honest mistake that happens from time to time and I don't really find hair particularly gross.

        1 Reply
        1. re: virtualguthrie

          I've eaten almost all known edible, nonpoisonous insects on purpose and with gusto.
          But hair?
          Don't know why....it has nothing to do with germs but it just makes me gag.

        2. The hair itself doesn't gross me out, so finding my own hair in soup that I cooked is not big deal. Finding someone else's hair in food at a restaurant or dinner party freaks me out b/c I start thinking about the other "things" that could be in the food...

          3 Replies
          1. re: mpjmph

            Things are in food, just as things are in the environment. I don't know why we (general) have becomes such a society of germaphobes. While reasonable cleanliness should be expected, we don't live in a sanitized bubbly. People get more germs from their cell phones, wallets, door handles, gear shifts, remotes, etc. than from a hair or anything else in food. My biggest concern with food is freshness...especially in these economic times.

            1. re: Janet from Richmond

              Very well said.
              Some people are a bit ridiculous when it comes to this sort of thing. I have seen people make a loud, obnxious fuss over thing like this. Despite all due care, things like this can happen anywhere, even at home.

              While I certainly wouldn't WANT to find a hair in my food, and while it WOULD cause me to reflect on a restaurant's kitchen, the line cooks, and their attention to such things, it is certainly not a deal breaker for me. I would definitely point it out to the server, more in the manner of a "heads up" to be passed along to the kitchen.

              1. re: Janet from Richmond

                We don't live in a sanitized bubble, nor should we. A little dirt now and then is good for you: http://www.nytimes.com/2009/01/27/hea... (actually a really neat article anyway).

                I usually don't mind finding a single hair in my food (as long as i find it BEFORE it ends up in my mouth); like the OP said, it's just as likely to be mine as a food worker's. Though in Miss Needle's situation, I'd most definitely gag a little, ask for my money back, and cross that restaurant off my list.

            2. I think we find much more hair in food today because workers don't wear hairnets like they used to. Working in fast and regular restaurants as a teen in the 70s, we were always required to wear hairnets. And, we topped them off with a cap for insurance. I'm so old, I remember all kinds of cleanliness requirements that don't exist today: At the burger joint, you either worked register or you touched food. You never moved from one station to the other without scrubbing like crazy in the sink in back. At school, you ABSOLUTELY HAD TO take a shower in gym class before getting in the pool, using a school-supplied swimsuit to limit detergent and kid-grime from getting in the water (or, in the city schools, boys swam b.a.). You had to have a swim cap, too. And, after regular gym class, you got demerits if you caught not taking a shower (girls could get an out 'you know when'). A tad off the food subject (!) but it proves a point of how things have changed in the germ arena...

              3 Replies
              1. re: the dog ate my homework

                I went to a school that is in a fairly old building (I think it was built in 1918). From what I understand, no one in the history of the school ever used the showers. They were there, but merely decoration. I think it just depended on the school and how much it cared about whether you showered. In medicine, the standard for cleanliness has gone up exponentially from what it was in the '70s.

                I am not really that obsessed about finding a hair in the food- as long as it is just one. Yeah, people may wear a hat or pull their hair back, but that isn't going to prevent every stray hair. All the hair I find is pretty small anyway.

                1. re: the dog ate my homework

                  food workers ARE required to cover their hair. enforcement is another matter.

                  and fwiw, hair in food is very unsanitary. hair can collect all sorts of contaminants, both airborne and from the former owner.

                  1. re: hotoynoodle

                    Food handling standards differ by area. Not the best example but at coffee shops in OC they don't require the workers to cover there hair.

                    And airborne contaminants? I think those are just as likely to cover the plate and the moist food you serve on it.

                2. If I see a stray hair on my food I just remove it. After all it could be one of mine ( I seem to be shedding lately - LOL.) The problem is when I take a bite of food and viola, there is something wrapping around my tongue that I have to fish out before I choke on it. I feel like a magician pulling the neverending hankie out of his pocket at that point. Now that kinda grosses me out, but I can deal with it. The only time I totally lost it was when I got a cheeseburger from a little place down the road. Best burgers in the neighborhood! Got it home, and it needed more mayo, so I open it up, and there it is . . . a curly gray hair embedded in the cheese. Worse part was I know the cook is a burly guy with lots of gray chest hair. He always wore a hat, but I guess he needed to button his shirt. Last time I ate there.

                  1. It would not be a deal breaker.IT WOULD GET MY ATTENTION.Just where is the bar set?
                    Sanitation,mediocre or bad,generalized sloppy habits and carelessness often travel together.My reaction or response on a case by case basis could vary.
                    The last time we found hair in the food was at a family restaurant.Our server wasn't wearing a clean shirt,(grubby,not fresh stains)nor did her hands impress us a fresh and clean.Went to the manager,asked for different table,server and one fresh plate,ate and departed.The manager did not address the grubby server issue at all.We have been a permanent loss.

                    1. I'm willing to bet we've all found more hair in our foods at home than at restaurants. One is not a deal killer, several would be, especially if they were of the crotch variety. All you gaggers out there, please do so now.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: Oneiron

                        No matter how hard I try, the more elaborate the meal I make there seems to be a higher chance for my own hair to fall in the food. Luckily, I'm only cooking for family who are used to finding my hair everywhere regardless of how many times I vacuum.
                        In a restaurant, after finding hair I would take a second look at their cleanliness just as I take a second thought when I find one at home.

                      2. Since I have pets, I tend to expect to find hair in my food at home. At a restaurant? One won't bother me, though many would.

                        1. Have I told you the story of ripping open a package of deep fried Hot Sauce Flavored pork skins (heavy into the 3rd week of Atkins) and finding a pig hair imbedded in the piece I was just about to drive through a bowl of sour cream??!?! (Atkins-thank GOD I don't do that anymore) Now that was gross. But not as gross as pulling it out and continuing to eat the rest. Once the hair is in play, I have a hard time finishing the thing.

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: Boccone Dolce

                            That's not so unusual in bags of "pork scratchings" that you get in England. You'll often find a pig hair or two. I love pork rinds, though, and it doesn't bother me much. Which is strange because (per post below), human hair is a dealbreaker for me.

                          2. I object to hair in my food mainly because I share a house with a hairy dog who likes to lick her nether regions.

                            1. My husband made beer in college aptly named "Hair of the Dog", after our pooch who just turned 12.

                              We don't usually make a big deal about it unless there's one piece. Then another. And another. And an unkempt person behind the counter making the food. We paid and left, having had our appetites destroyed for awhile.

                              1. Unless it's short and curly, I'll remove the hair without a second though.

                                1. Rationally, I wouldn't have a problem with it. Just like I sometimes eat things that I've dropped on the floor. And I keep things past the sell-by date, and I sometimes just cut off the moldy bits (cheese, bread). I'm no germophobe. But when it comes to hair, I'm admittedly not rational. I literally can't eat something if I've found a hair in it. I can't figure out why it grosses me out so badly, but I sort of wish it wouldn't. Wouldn't make a scene about it, though.

                                  1. When I was in high school, and perfectly fine with eating spicy crispy chicken sandwiches from Carl's Junior nearly every day of my life, I found something inside one of the sandwiches, smothered in the mayonnaise. If it had been a hair, it would have been no big deal. I would have taken it out and probably continued eating it.

                                    I took the sandwich to the counter and one of the employees started digging the object out. It was a huge chunk of hair net! Kind of ironic.