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Don't touch money and then touch my food!

What is it with casual dining places. I'm not talking Jack in the Box or Taco Bell that have dedicated cashiers, but rather those neighborhood delis and pizza joints that have one person behind the counter. Don't the owners teach their employees to WASH THEIR HANDS??

It's happened to me recently at a couple of pizza places and a sandwich shop. At the sandwich place, the girl took my money, and then started making my sandwich!! I said, will you please wash your hands first and you should have seen the look she gave me!! It's one thing if they slap on some gloves, but she didn't even bother.

It happened to me at 2 pizza places recently. One, the owner was standing right there and when the guy started to touch my slices (at the workstation right next to the sink) I said something and the owner never once said a word.

Does casual dining mean we take our chances with our health?

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  1. I agree. It's gross. And I do say something if I like the place. If I'm not so crazy about them or they have a lot of nearby competition, I just don't return.

    1. worse still is when they lick their fingers to open the brown bag. Totally bleh.

        1. Don't you, in the course of the transaction, touch your money then touch your food, without washing your hands?

          4 Replies
          1. re: xanadude

            I, personally, carry wetnaps for just that reason. But, when possible will wash my hands prior to touching food, if I'm not using a knife and fork. I guess it just makes me wonder, if they are so careless about their hand sanitation, what else are they touching before they touch my food..... ew

            1. re: xanadude

              In my opinion that is not really an issue. The person at the shop is handling lots of food and lots of money from lots of different people throughout the day, the amount of bacteria transfered seems like it would be considerably more compared to one person touching a bit of money and their own food.

              1. re: xanadude

                No I do not touch money and then touch my food without washing my hands. That's why I carry Purel.

                1. re: Leonardo

                  Guess what- Purel is not "washing your hands".

              2. Must be a pizza place thing.
                Last week at this pizza place I see one guy takes out a wad of bills and hands it to the guy next to him who then starts counting the bills and puts them in his wallet and then immediately starts making an insalata Caprese salad and then takes a wad of salad with his bare hands to make a dinner salad.

                1. You know, there are some things in live that just aren't worth worrying about. For me, this is one of them. In fact, most of the hygiene "issues" that come up on this board qualify (for me!).

                  If I was elderly, living AIDS or some other immunodeficiency I'm sure that would change.

                  27 Replies
                  1. re: Atahualpa

                    In theory, I understand what you're saying. I had a friend from Russia, who had travelled around the world, tell me Americans are "too clean". This comment stemmed from me asking her.... Don't you ever get sick eating foods and drinking water in different countries?

                    A few germs can toughen up your system! But, having been raised with a Mom that always told me to wash my hands, I have trouble seeing less than sanitary behavior from food handlers.

                      1. re: Atahualpa

                        I agree 100% as well. People are so germophobic here and there is just no good reason for it. How many people have you heard of who died because of handling money or a shopping cart handle, it's just over the top IMO. My sister washes her hands after handling a menu. 2 of my friends won't take out library books because of the "germs." I mean, it's just gone insane.

                        1. re: rockandroller1

                          I am with you, especially since people's 'rules' about what they accept as 'sanitary' are all over the place. Doesn't the server handle the folder that the check comes in? Do you think that it is EVER cleaned? What about the doors in the establishment? If these hothouse orchids knew what went on in even the best of kitchens they'd probably freak out. There are some things you just have to not think about and enjoy your meal. I'm not saying look away when a mouse walks by and simply remove the roach carcass from your salade nicoise, but come on people, calm the F down.

                          1. re: chow_gal

                            Totally agree.
                            Unfortunately there are some people who have made their minds up and refuse to listen to voices of reason.
                            Some of the best food in the world is, most likely, never experienced because of the preconceived notion, by the same people, that it's untouchable.

                            1. re: latindancer

                              I found it interesting that I will be in Asia and eat from a street cart and not worry about germs. Of course, I check the street cart out and go where I see a line of locals buying the food. When I'm shopping where I live, however, I expect hands that handle money do not handle my food. My expectations shift depending on where the food is being served and what is available to the cook/worker to keep things "clean".

                              I have never been sick from food bought from a street vendor. Not so restaurants and sandwich shops in the Boston area.

                              Anyway, I am not a germophobe and my son has eaten his share of dirt as a kid. : ) Try not to generalize those of us who want money handled apart from our food as "hothouse orchids", weirdos, or OCD sufferers.

                              1. re: three of us

                                If people properly educated themselves there'd find fewer reasons to be irrational when it comes to certain things.
                                Instead of going to the source, in this case the Health Department, and thoroughly investigating like I did, they'd learn their concerns were, for the most part, unwarranted.
                                Instead there are those who continue to buy into fears that just aren't there.

                                1. re: three of us

                                  "My expectations shift depending on where the food is being served and what is available to the cook/worker to keep things "clean"."

                                  OK. But does your stomach and intestinal tract also shift? This makes no sense. But at least you admit it.

                              2. re: chow_gal

                                chow gal, you are my hero today. Maybe for the whole damn week.

                                1. re: chow_gal

                                  One time I was watching Jacques Pepin truss a chicken on tv. He manhandled the chicken, DID NOT wash his hands, then used he twine. It was like he purposely was not "sanitary". I loved it. People need to understand that germs need time to grow, food to grow in and a temperature conducive to growth. How many of these criterion does money meet?

                                2. re: rockandroller1

                                  It's amazing how some people manage to ever leave their homes. I love this recent thread: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/572415

                                  1. re: rockandroller1

                                    Agreed. People just end up getting sicker because their bodies don't develop resistance. It's okay for kids to go out side and get dirty and it's okay for us to come into contact with things that are not 100% sanitary and not go immediately to wash our hands. Purel and other anti-bacterial agents are still a lot less successful than soap and water anyway, so I don't get the Purel fanatics if soap and water are available.

                                    1. re: rockandroller1

                                      I have no patience for that paranoia... it's completely absurd, and probably indicative of mild mental illness. Indeed, some research suggests that some of the health crises we face in the first world are based on our overadherence to hygiene, and the resultant lack of exposure to parasites.

                                      1. re: vorpal

                                        scientifically true, it's perfectly healthy thinking to dislike the thought of our foods exposed to dirt, grease, fecal matter, traces of cocaine, and all the other gifts one might find on a dollar bill.

                                        1. re: vorpal


                                          Finally- somebody who echoes the way I feel, and your first sentence says it all.

                                      2. re: Atahualpa

                                        i heartily agree.
                                        much ado about (next to) nothing.

                                        1. re: Atahualpa

                                          Agreed! This stuff doesn't bother me, and I think that products like Purell can exacerbate the problem. Unless you're immunodeficient or have similar problems (handling a preemie, for example), I just don't think it's necessary to use that stuff all the time. I guess I'm an anti-germaphobe. ;)

                                          1. re: sfumato

                                            >>"...I think that products like Purell can exacerbate the problem."

                                            Purell needs to have a safety label like; "DO avoid excessive skin contact" IMHO. Alcohol can equally be absorbed through the skin and cause toxic effects. To be clear, it may be safe for OCCASIONAL USE, but it should never be used as a routine, such as every 5-10-15... minutes.

                                            1. re: RShea78

                                              "Alcohol can equally be absorbed through the skin and cause toxic effects."

                                              That's a new one to me. Do you have some information that shows this is true? Equal absorption to being ingested? I doubt that.

                                              I have the impression that what sfumato was referring to is creating "more" resistant bacteria due to Purell (and other similar kinds of products) killing most, but not all of the bacteria. And when the stronger ones survive they produce offspring that are more resistant to being eliminated.

                                              1. re: Servorg

                                                I believe Purell is made with denatured alcohol (highly toxic) like many products which are for external use and not meant to be consumed internally.

                                                1. re: monku

                                                  Right. I was talking about skin absorption of alcohol (either type) and not suggesting anyone drink Purell. Thanks for clearing that up, monku.

                                                  1. re: Servorg

                                                    I was agreeing with you.
                                                    I never thought you meant "internal" consumption.

                                                    Confirming that any skin abosorbtion of denatured alcohol would have toxic effects and that denatured alcohol is used in external use products so they won't be consumed internally.

                                                  1. re: xanadude

                                                    "Alcohol can equally be absorbed through the skin and cause toxic effects."

                                                    The question is "equally." Not whether some small amount gets absorbed. And when it comes to use by workers outside of the medical profession who are constantly sterilizing their hands with products like Purell, can enough alcohol be absorbed to cause "toxic" effects (as RShea78's post says).

                                                      1. re: jfood

                                                        They have to be on Gojo's payroll to conclude that.

                                            2. This is a big pet peeve of mine.

                                              If I see it, I won't accept the food. I'll ask the person to wash their hands or use a tissue (when it happens in a bakery).

                                              2 Replies
                                              1. re: three of us

                                                This drives me crazy, especially at the meat counter. Also If the clerk rubs his/her hands through their hair and then touches my meat. I often make an excuse and walk away. A lot of the big markets don't require the butchers to wear rubber gloves. I've seen clerks and sandwich makers who are wearing gloves, touch the food and the money while wearing the gloves - what good does that do?

                                                I have reported these kind of things to the store managers and yet it still continues. I think they think that I am nuts .... well I am - because their practices make me NUTS.

                                                1. re: Canthespam

                                                  Haha, I used to work at a restaurant where the busboy would always wash his hands with the gloves on. Even when the manager repeatedly told him to just put on new gloves, the pair that went on his hands in the beginning of the night were there at the end.

                                                  At least he was washing his gloves though!

                                              2. A restaurant is serving a wide range of people and owes it to their customers to maintain the highest hygiene standards possible.

                                                What any of use may choose to do in our home is totally different from the responsibility of the restaurant.

                                                1 Reply
                                                1. re: meatn3

                                                  meatn3, that is really my point here..... I'm a hand washer.. I have animals and I'm constantly touching them and then washing my hands. But it's my option.

                                                  I believe a food handler has an obligation to do whatever is possible to provide me with a clean, wholesome product. Some people are just not fastidious in their own personal habits and it extends to their professional habits as well.

                                                2. I was just in a fast food restaurant. Went from my car to the rest room to wash my hands. Noticed a sign over the sink: All employees must wash their hands before returning to work. Reassuring. Not!

                                                  The bathroom had a hot air dryer that was significantly impared from being effective. And guess what, the employee and customer than had to unlatch the locked door with their supposed clean hands.

                                                  Having lived through infancy, adolescence, and most of my alloted adulthood; I find today, I'm only slightly less neurotic about germs than Howard Hughes ever was.

                                                  1. This is not whether people are germophobes or not. This is about hygiene that is expected in a place where food is prepared/handled. This is also about common sense. Call your health dept. Whether you realize it or not they do take it into account if enough calls are made about a certain place. These places have to be inspected and a rating posted. Not all of these inspections are known about in advance so they're all squeaky clean and everyone is on their best behavior. Trust me on this. I worked for the FDA for quite a few years. If their rating is put into jeopardy, most of them change their minds about employees and cleanliness.

                                                    3 Replies
                                                    1. re: CadienBelle

                                                      Precisely in what capacity did you work "for the FDA for quite a few years"? And what connection does the FDA have with local restaurant inspections? As for food processing, that is done on the federal level by USDA not FDA, right? I know that USDA inspections are a joke. For example, for chicken processing, they visually inspect the bird as it swings by hanging from a hook! That's right you read correctly: visual inspection! No microscope, etc. Is this 2009 or 1609?

                                                      1. re: Leonardo

                                                        14 years and I worked my way up to the level I retired at, thank you! I could post my license, but I don't have to prove it. At different times FDA, FSIS, and ending my career at USDA.

                                                        Poor choice of alphabets on my part, pardon me! I didn't know I would have to post them all to be believed! And evidently the place you saw the :chicken being visually inspected" did they do a prelim? They can't inspect them all so it's done at random. The in plant inspectors are supposed to be doing the inspecting. We just go behind them and check to make sure their job is being done.

                                                        1. re: Leonardo

                                                          "Precisely in what capacity did you work "for the FDA for quite a few years"? And what connection does the FDA have with local restaurant inspections? As for food processing, that is done on the federal level by USDA not FDA, right?"


                                                          In your ignorance you tried to make me look like a fool and a liar... I'm neither. This link should answer your questions.

                                                        1. re: ScubaSteve

                                                          I personally don't care about people touching money and then my food, but I do wonder about this research and its application to the USA/Canada. Australian/NZ money has a plasticised quality to it, American money doesn't, would that make a difference due to the extra "absorbency" (for lack of a better term) of US currency?

                                                        2. Have you ever seen a commerical kitchen in action? Did you ever think of the hands that made that dough for the pizza? Maybe the money handling is a minor thing.

                                                          3 Replies
                                                          1. re: treb

                                                            That's not exactly a consoling answer. There's a difference between handling raw food which is then cooked, to handling cash transactions, telephones, door handles, etc. and then touching cooked food before it's served.

                                                            1. re: sugartoof

                                                              I understand what you're saying but, if you really think about 'all the possibilities'. I get more concerned about the non-cooked cold stuff, salads, bread etc. I also steer clear of buffets where little snotty fingers may have landed.

                                                              1. re: cstr

                                                                Sure, lots of stuff freaks me out, but the money thing is probably the most preventable , and most overt violation, at least in terms of aesthetics.

                                                          2. It humors me when I see the guy count money, clean and prepare food WITH gloves.

                                                            1. I just get amused every time one of these threads gets going. Forget about the money. What about waitstaff who clear a table of dirty dishes (maybe that have had snot, saliva, or who knows what blown all over them) and then turn around and serve the next table with food just out of the kitchen. How often do those hands get washed in between? Some places have busboys, but certainly not all. C'mon--this type of thing goes on all the time, and seldom does anyone get sick from it. If this type of thing were really a problem the human race would have died out long ago.

                                                              2 Replies
                                                              1. re: johnb

                                                                Okay so it takes a lot before unsanitary habits become a health risk, but it's a matter of being polite, and professional and not turning off customers. The fact that people have died as a result of unsanitary conduct in food service is not inconsequential, no matter how rare these cases may be. Also, who really likes their pizza crust to taste like a soiled $5 bill?

                                                                1. re: sugartoof

                                                                  I absolutely agree with you. Mostly because you have put your finger right on the point. Actual harm to people is very rare, but it's not really the true health risk aspect that matters so much--it's what people witness with their own eyes and react to. Food service businesses should be professional and should adopt best practices. Not doing so doesn't present anywhere near the risk that some portray, but it does turn people off. Making customers happy and content is a big part of the business.

                                                              2. Noroviruses are very contagious which can be spread by person to person contact or by object to person.

                                                                Read link where they recommend cleaning of casino chips and pens and pencils http://www.co.washoe.nv.us/health/ehs...

                                                                CDC Information

                                                                1 Reply
                                                                1. re: monku

                                                                  Considering the basic starting point of this thread, I think the following statement of advice, taken straight from the CDC foodhandlers page linked just above, is highly amusing:

                                                                  "Food handlers who were recently sick can be given different duties in the restaurant so that they do not have to handle food (for example, working the cash register or hostessing)."

                                                                  Everyone may draw his own conclusions from that......

                                                                2. In my twenties, I cashiered in a cafe one evening a week. While I was on the register, I asked my coworkers to retrieve food and pour milk and other drinks we stored in a cooler and portioned in glasses. Many of them took offense at being asked, as if I thought I was their boss. I'd explain that I really shouldn't handle food and money, but some continued to have an issue with it. I cannot tell you how much flak I took, and got a reputation for being snooty because of it. I persisted. If you'd seen the way money was handled before it got to me, you germ lovers would think twice. I've seen money come out of sweaty socks and bras and waistbands, been handled by licked fingers, and picked up off a filthy floor. You then want me to pour your child's glass of milk with my visibly dirty hands? If I was a mom, I'd think not.

                                                                  10 Replies
                                                                    1. re: DarthEater

                                                                      It was a cafeteria set up. If I had to pull on a fresh pair of gloves each time a customer wanted a drink (either a can, or one I had to pour from a larger container,) I would have gone through an entire box in one shift. My average customer count per eight hour shift was well over 400, the time I spent with each person, well you can imagine.

                                                                      It's also completely unfeasible from a time standpoint, to be either washing my hands or donning and doffing gloves each time, when I have a line of customers waiting to be rang up. The most frustrating part about all this is that we were staffed with a barista at every shift, and the barista also had a runner, who could have backed him/her up for these tasks. IMO, these people should have done all drinks, not just coffee. But, me I was seen as a stick in the works, because I cared about cleanliness. It was nutty.

                                                                      1. re: DarthEater

                                                                        At the Vietnamese sandwich shop I go to. The lady makes and handle the sandwiches with her bare hands. She then puts on gloves to handle the money. This is opposite from what every one else seems to do, but it makes perfect sense.

                                                                        1. re: chipman

                                                                          It makes perfect sense if your primary job is to make sandwiches. If you're a cashier, and being paid by the front end, gloves would make you rather inefficient at your job. I daresay gloves would impact your accuracy as well as your speed, especially with those pesky new bills. But, yeah, for a sandwich maker, it makes sense.

                                                                          1. re: amyzan

                                                                            Interestingly, in Chinatown, I often see cashiers wearing thin wool gloves. I'm not sure if it's for sanitary reasons, comfort, or something else entirely, but I'm wildly curious.

                                                                            1. re: vorpal

                                                                              When I was a cashier, I used to wear fingerless gloves in winter, before they installed heaters over the entrance. Do you see the wool gloves all seasons of the year?

                                                                      2. re: amyzan

                                                                        >>While I was on the register, I asked my coworkers to retrieve food and pour milk and other drinks we stored in a cooler and portioned in glasses. Many of them took offense at being asked, as if I thought I was their boss. I'd explain that I really shouldn't handle food and money, but some continued to have an issue with it. I cannot tell you how much flak I took, and got a reputation for being snooty because of it. I persisted.<<

                                                                        amyzan- In restaurants I worked in, you would likely be fired, because there is no excuse.(IMHO) Cashiers do not rule! Reguardless, your hands clean up just as well as theirs do.

                                                                        1. re: RShea78

                                                                          I don't understand what you're saying. I would've been fired because I asked other people to pour drinks when I had a line of customers snaking into the retail area from the cafeteria? IMO, my job was to ring those people up as quickly as possible, and it was the barista and his runner's job to get them their drinks. Different job descriptions. In fact, we weren't even paid out of the same team budget. The barista and runner worked for the kitchen, and I worked for the front end of the store. The front end wouldn't fire me as long as I was a good cashier. They didn't define my job as serving food. To clarify, I had no problem serving drinks when business was slow, and I had time to wash my hands between transactions. This was simply not true the majority of my shift each week, however.

                                                                          1. re: amyzan

                                                                            amyzan- Your original post sounded like you were making up your own rules, rather than following a strict job description. Then in a back twist you mentioned caned or poured drinks, (RE: DarthEater) of which can be handled as you are. I mean cans are nasty anyway and as long as the poured drinks have a handle or dispenser, that shouldn't be an issue.

                                                                            IMHO- having clean hands is a must when handling the edible portion of the food. Understanding that tongs, wrapper, handles, bases, scoops,spoons, etc., are used whenever not so clean hands are needed to get the job done.

                                                                            1. re: RShea78

                                                                              I mentioned the cans and poured drinks in my OP. It's the second sentence. I don't see what's not clear about my OP. I think you were perhaps just assuming that I was the problem, not that I was actually one of the few employees trying to follow the rules as they'd been given.

                                                                              These were the rules we all learned in ServSafe classes, which we were required to take before the first day of work. As I said, I only did this when I simply didn't have time to wash my hands, as I was perfectly happy to pitch in on serving customers when I didn't have a line and could wash up. Unfortunately, that wasn't very often. I think most of the other employees were accustomed to inefficient cashiers who didn't care if they had 50 people in line, they moved no faster. I didn't want people's food getting cold while they waited to pay.

                                                                        1. re: kiiess

                                                                          This American obsession with a germless society is a direct result of decades of incessant, multi-media marketing campaigns by companies such as Kimberly Clarke, Reckitt Benckiser (makers of Lysol), Dow Chemical, et. al.

                                                                          They start by creating an atmosphere of fear -- such as the television commercial depicting a toddler reaching for a telephone receiver literally crawling with exaggerated-looking "germs" (they look more like multi-colored caterpillars and worms, like something one might see after digesting LSD or psychedelic mushrooms) -- then convince potential consumers that their products will remedy the so-called problem.

                                                                          What we're seeing these days -- this irrational fear of ever-present "germs" and the plethora of products designed to kill them -- is due to the continual expansion of awareness of so-called problems by the corporate entities mentioned above. We've gone from Vanish(tm) toilet cleaning product -- a worthwhile concoction, toilets can indeed be filthy -- to antibacterial hand-wipe stations in the grocery store aisles.

                                                                          What's deplorable about this situation is that: 1) many people now have irrational fears of germs, to the point of obsession/compulsion; 2) the chemical products designed to quell these largely inconsequential fears are adding to an already polluted planet, and; 3) "germs" are becoming increasingly resistant and adaptable, while our resistance weakens.

                                                                          Would you like fries with that?


                                                                          1. re: CucumberBoy

                                                                            CucumberBoy, if I could, I'd buy you a drink.

                                                                            1. re: Atahualpa

                                                                              Just don't put your finger in it... ;)

                                                                              1. re: bulavinaka

                                                                                Ha! If it has enough alcohol gel on it, maybe it's safe...

                                                                          2. Actually, one thing I wonder is whether you can catch viruses this way, as opposed to bacteria. I mean, I'm not exactly worried about getting some kind of weird bacterial condition, but the common cold is a lot more prevalent and this would be a really lame way to come down with it.

                                                                            2 Replies
                                                                            1. re: Agent 510

                                                                              "I mean, I'm not exactly worried about getting some kind of weird bacterial condition"

                                                                              Yeah. After all, what's a little flesh eating bacteria between friends? ;-D>

                                                                              1. I can see how this might bother people. I used to be a bank teller for a couple years, and money can be very nasty. I had a co-worker who got a rash from handling money, which was why we always had hand sanitizer and wet wipes. The dirt and grime from handling it gets gross after an hour or two. Fast food money (or any money) would come in with bugs in it, blood, etc.

                                                                                With that said, I can also see why this might not bother people if it's just a cashier at a fast food place who only touches money occasionally.. it seems everyone uses debit and credit cards anymore.

                                                                                1. I frequent a fast food sandwich place and love the fact that the food preppers put on plastic gloves before handling the food. OTOH, I literally lose sleep over worrying about all that plastic going into the landfill. And even though I religiously wash my hands at home before handling food, I also allow family pets to scamper all over the counters and dishrack whenever the spirit moves them. If it's not one thing, it's another!

                                                                                  1. I saw the same thing happen at a sandwich place near me (girl behind counter takes money and then starts making sandwich with bare hands). So gross.

                                                                                    Is this worth calling the manager and/or the local health department over? Is anything likely to happen other than them laughing and moving on?

                                                                                    1. It didn't really bother me until I started getting my chicken from this butcher shop. All of the change I've received from him has been wet, stained with blood and poultry juice. I now carry a small ziploc bag for my change when I go there for my chicken. One never knows where money has been. A week ago, I received a dollar bill with a huge blood stain on it (or what looks like to be a blood stain). It covered half of the bill.

                                                                                      3 Replies
                                                                                      1. re: Miss Needle

                                                                                        Blood and poultry juice on your change? That's not cool.

                                                                                        And I did see another thread about people working as servers while sick, which I tend to be more sympathetic to. I'm not going to chew out some server who's struggling to make ends meet, or their boss who often has no choice other than to go short-staffed.

                                                                                        But making your employees wash their hands before handling food? That takes a minute, tops!

                                                                                        1. re: Agent 510

                                                                                          Reminds me of the time I went to this Moes Mexican Restaurant (now out of business fwiw) but I walked in, and the food worker, was sweeping the filthy floor, ok fine. so he sees me then goes back behind the counter/make station and just proceeds to puts gloves on. I immediately said to him, COULD YOU WASH YOUR HANDS FIRST!??
                                                                                          Like gloves were good enough after he just got done his smoke break (could smell it) and using a filthy broom and picking up garbage off a floor? Really now...

                                                                                        2. re: Miss Needle

                                                                                          Jfood grew up in NJ...what's your point? :-))

                                                                                          Perfectly good money and everyone knew if there was blood on it, the chance of it being counterfeit was nil. Have you every seen a movie or TV show when the counterfeit money was anything other than pristine?

                                                                                        3. Cucumberboy above summed it up wonderfully. It seems many people realize obsessing over germs in restaurants is pointless. Some even said it's simply a matter of courtesy NOT to do these "dirty" things in front of the customer. That it's aesthetically unpleasing and should be avoided simply because it turns people off.

                                                                                          But you're still stressing about it. If you know its unlikely to get you sick, and you don't really care, then let it go!! Don't get mad at other people because they aren't putting on a show for you.

                                                                                          1. The moment I get home, I boil my change.

                                                                                            1 Reply
                                                                                            1. re: beevod

                                                                                              I really wish I could be sure you were joking.

                                                                                            2. This topic has been bothering me a lot lately.

                                                                                              Maybe I've been spoiled be watching Japanese pastry shop workers -- fresh gloves on before handling any food, then off before handling money. In larger shops, different workers assigned to handling food vs handling money.

                                                                                              Recently I've found in several pastry shops I used to enjoy shopping at here in the states, the clerks have grabbed the pastries themselves with their bare hands without washing their hands first then proceeded to handle the money.

                                                                                              Noticed the same thing at a mom-and-pop sausage shop the other day (including for sausages that didn't require further cooking).

                                                                                              Not sure how best to handle this.
                                                                                              Debating whether to complain (after all, I am only seeing the tip of the iceberg, so to speak) or to just stop shopping at those places.

                                                                                              14 Replies
                                                                                              1. re: racer x

                                                                                                Are you handling money and then handling your food? No difference from the worker doing the same thing. The risk of disease transmission this way is so low as to be negligible. If you worry about this then you should be absolutely terrorized by the danger you are in while driving in any car.

                                                                                                1. re: Servorg

                                                                                                  No. I buy the pastries or sausages, then drive home with them.
                                                                                                  I always wash my hands as soon as I enter my house, whether I am bringing in food or not.
                                                                                                  If I am bringing in food, I then put the food away.

                                                                                                  1. re: racer x

                                                                                                    You never eat any type of "hand" consumed food when you are out? Not a hamburger or a sandwich or a hot dog or a doughnut? Never crumble up a cracker into your soup or pick up a potato chip. Ever?

                                                                                                    1. re: Servorg

                                                                                                      Never and ever are absolutes, so I will say yes I sometimes, rarely, stray, if you put it in absolute terms. (Usually it's french fries.)

                                                                                                      But other than that, I almost always either wash my hands in the restaurant's washroom (when available) or try to hold the food (donuts, sandwiches, hot dogs, burgers) with the little paper wrappers that most food in restaurants that don't have washrooms usually serve the food with.

                                                                                                      1. re: Servorg

                                                                                                        Servorg, I'm not racer x, but I wash my hands before I eat while out. It doesn't matter what it is, I don't eat with dirty hands in most any circumstance. I started this habit when I worked with young children in my early twenties, and it has served me well throughout my life. I have asthma and safeguard my respiratory health. No, I'm not a hypochondriac, and I doubt racer x is either. Live and let live, my friend.

                                                                                                    2. re: Servorg

                                                                                                      Not racer x either, but I don't handle money and then handle my food. I use Purell which, while not as good as hand-washing, does get rid of enough of the germs to satisfy me. And not all dangers bother all people. I'm squeamish about food hygiene, yet I regularly fly in bacteria-laden airplanes and drive my car in Boston.

                                                                                                      I also think that for some people, it's more the idea of "dirt" than any real concern about getting sick that grosses them out. And people aren't always rational about what they fear or dislike. If I see a mouse in a dining room, I'm not nearly as disgusted as if I see a cockroach, though I'm pretty sure both sorts of vermin are frowned on by health departments.

                                                                                                      1. re: Isolda

                                                                                                        The problem is we are creating super bugs by our insistence on receiving antibiotics when they are not called for and this misguided attempt at living a "germ free" existence. We end up weakening out immune systems, and in the process end up being sicker, (and with more frequency). Once again the law of unintended consequences bites us in the butt.

                                                                                                        1. re: Servorg

                                                                                                          Purell is basically alcohol, which is not linked to antibiotic resistance or the creation of superbugs the way triclosan (the ingredient in antibacterial soaps) is. This is a common misconception.

                                                                                                          In general, though, plain old soap and water are best for hand washing. Or you could always just rub them with a bit of vodka...

                                                                                                          1. re: Isolda

                                                                                                            I have a dirty, filthy mouth. Permission to wash with copious amounts of vodka?

                                                                                                          2. re: Servorg

                                                                                                            I hear what you're saying, Servorg, but there is a difference between following basic hygiene guidelines and overuse of antibiotics. Not all germ or dirt conscious behaviors can be lumped together as contributing to the problem.

                                                                                                            1. re: amyzan

                                                                                                              Ditto to amyzan.

                                                                                                              That basic handwashing and similar measures improves health outcomes has been well-proven.
                                                                                                              That we are "weakening our immune systems" by attempting to live a "germ free existence" is still just hypothesis.

                                                                                                              1. re: amyzan

                                                                                                                I guess the reason that this issue doesn't rise to the level of getting any part of my conscious attention is because when I look back on the all the food I've consumed at street vendors or night markets around the world, when I consider how many young ladies I've met and necked with from my teenage years on and thinking about my brother (who made reptiles his life's work) and the number of snakes, lizards, turtles, frogs and toads I've handled (and had living in my bedroom growing up) and then never washed my hands afterward - or the number of people I've shaken hands with, the telephones I've used at every company I've ever worked for, the years of Scouting camping and hiking under less than hygienic conditions and finally the number of times I drank water from taps in Mexico - I guess I just cannot get worked up about this issue.

                                                                                                                1. re: Servorg

                                                                                                                  Perhaps you are blessed with a remarkably resilient immune system bolstered by such living conditions throughout your life? Many people are not so lucky.

                                                                                                        2. re: racer x

                                                                                                          I'm with you rx. i can;t stand the sheer negligence that i see at some of these stores. One bagel shop is constantly changing gloves in between money-product.Love it.

                                                                                                          i'm also the guy that tells people at the bagel bing to use the tongs.

                                                                                                          and don't get me started at the deli counter. the cutters think the gloves are to protect them. they scratch their heads while wearing gloves and then cut the meat. For me, "Can I have a half pound of turkey and please change your gloves." And if they play with their hair while cutting, they start again with a new pair of gloves. Basic hygience is never out place.