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Feb 6, 2011 04:59 PM

Unhygenic restaurant practices


At one of my favorite local greasy spoons this morning and I notice the cook didnt wear gloves. I noticed the same a few weeks ago at a local pizzaria I have been going to since I was a child. In fact I saw the same towel being used to wipe hands, pull pans out of the pizza oven, and wipe the pizza knife/cutting board. it hasnt killed me yet right? Having worked in the industry for awhile, and being serv-safe certified, I know these arent safe food handling procedures. However, both occasions I made the conscious decision to not worry about it.

Anyone else ever grapple with these types of situations?

  1. If you've been in the business you know there are a lot more things going on that are "unhygenic" than those you actually see.
    Do you think servers wash their hands or use clean towels everytime they clean a table or pick up dirty dishes. Have you seen a employees touching their face, nose or hair with or without gloves then touching the food they prepare for you? Are the dishwashers or busboys washing their hands after taking out the trash then handling clean dishes and silverware?
    Do all the employees cover their face when they cough or sneeze around food?

    The list goes on, you can't worry about it.

    3 Replies
    1. re: monku

      Forty years ago when I taught high school a lot of my students worked part-time in local restaurants and in their writing assignments often told of stomach-turning practices like spitting in the soup or blowing their nose into a customer's sandwich to express resentment of customer rudeness, poor tipping etc. I will add that about 25 years ago a well-known fast food place where I then lived was found to be the source of an outbreak of typhoid---nine cases as I recall---traced to an immigrant kitchen helper who was a carrier. For months I avoided fast food restaurants but then returned thinking that surely everyone would be extra-careful now. Not so. When I was in the ladies' room two girl employees used the toilet then exited to their workplace without washing their hands.

      1. re: Querencia

        Not so. When I was in the ladies' room two girl employees used the toilet then exited to their workplace without washing their hands.
        I see that kind of thing a lot and hoping the employee has the decency to use the sinks in the kitchen to wash their hands.

        1. re: Querencia

          Your comment about the girl employees not washing their hands after using the restroom made me think. Whether or not they're employees they should wash their hands.
          It's just good personal hygene and maybe it has to start at home. Financial barriers have nothing to do with personal hygene, I've been at country clubs and seen multi-millionaires leave the restroom without washing their hands.

      2. Hi,

        This is rather timely for me...

        I'm on Week #2 of a kinda bad cold. Two weeks ago my son, DIL, I and their little one went to a deli for sandwiches. Three days later all four of us came down with the same cold.

        Anyone care to hazard a guess where we picked up whatever it was?

        Needless to say... I'm gonna be a bit standoffish when it comes to that particular deli in future.

        Maybe that's why I cook for myself darn near everything I eat.


        7 Replies
        1. re: I used to know how to cook...

          Isn't it possible that cold could have been picked up anywhere else besides that deli?

          1. re: I used to know how to cook...

            Lucy, i have to side with monku on this one - there's no way to know that you picked up the cold from that deli. grandchild could have gotten it at school or daycare, or one of the adults could have gotten it from someone at work, or on the bus, or a shoping cart handle at the grocery store...anything is possible. then whichever of you had it could have passed it along to the rest of the gang.

            1. re: goodhealthgourmet

              Normally I take such blame games with a grain of salt but in this case the poster said all 4 people who'd eaten at the deli came down with the cold simultaneously. That indicates that the deli - or something else they did together - was the source of the illness.

              1. re: greygarious

                Thank you, Greygarious, for your accurate read of my post.

                Yes, we all became ill the same day. The four of us weren't anywhere together other than the deli.

                That said, since I'm feeling a LOT more charitable today (that means I'm feeling better today...) I'll grant it could have been another customer rather than the deli staff.


                1. re: I used to know how to cook...

                  or the child you all kissed. or the friend whose hand you shook. or someone who touched the doorhandle. or the guy who sneezed as you exited the car.....

                  1. re: I used to know how to cook...

                    Colds are spread in many ways that have No connection to food prep. Geesh just being in a public place where others have been, you can all at the same time catch the cold that a customer passed on, on the door handle, napkin container, a sneeze.

                    To blame the food preparation and/or workers in not very valid.
                    I suspect you have a germ issue but not a good idea of how things spread.

                  2. re: greygarious

                    or something else they did together - was the source of the illness.

                    Is it possible as explained by goodhealthgourmet that someone caught the cold germs from somewhere else and they all happened to go to the deli maybe in the same car together and that's how they all got their colds?

              2. Gloves? I hate gloves.

                1. cooks do not have to wear gloves when handling hot food, they would melt!

                  I don't know if my friends/daughters/mom wash their hands, taste with the same spoon which goes back into the soup, blow their noses or sneeze over the food, take the trash out, feed the dog during prep, wipe the counter between raw and cooked food. We just went to a potluck super bowl party and I have no idea who made the food I ate - I presume I won't get sick.

                  5 Replies
                  1. re: smartie

                    "cooks do not have to wear gloves when handling hot food, they would melt!"

                    thats just simply not true. cooks are required by local health code to wear gloves when handling "ready to eat food." (this can vary by city/state) Plus if a cook is touching something that is hot enough to melt a glove......well he/she has bigger problems.

                    1. re: joe777cool

                      Unfortunately at my favorite pizza place the guy who prepares the Insalata Caprese(without gloves) is the same guy handling the cash register.
                      I don't order the Insalata Caprese.

                      1. re: joe777cool

                        Why doesn't my favorite sushi chef wear gloves?

                        1. re: joe777cool

                          Gloves do a good job of protecting the glove wearer from catching something but that's about all. If I blow my nose into my gloved hand and then make your salad, I'll be safe but I'll have my doubts about you. Once again, it comes down to the training and how well run the place is. My son the chef washes up like he's going to perform surgery before he touches food - when he's cooking AT MY HOUSE - so I assume he does at least the same in his restaurant and insures that his cooks do the same. If I haven't died from some of my own at home practices, I feel I'm pretty safe almost anywhere.

                          1. re: joe777cool

                            FYI: In Los Angeles county, here are the regulations regarding gloves:

                            "Bare hand contact with ready-to-eat food should be avoided as much as possible. Food handlers assembling sandwiches, salads, or plating ready-to-eat food may contact the food with their bare hands but should use utensils as often as possible. "


                            This would explain why sushi chefs in LA County don't wear gloves.