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Utensils left in the serving dish

charlesbois Apr 2, 2013 05:57 AM

I worked at a place where a lot of food was brought in and shared, especially baked goods. One person was even paid to bring in (extremely mediocre and occasionally inedible) desserts, (but that is a thread for another time).

A lot of times I'd get the ball rolling by cutting a slice of whatever was offered, then putting the serving utensil on a separate plate to the side. Without fail the serving utensil would end up in the dish. About 15 people would have touched it by that time. As far as I can tell, no one was a big hand washer either, so in my opinion that was a dirty utensil I didn't want touching the food. Am I being germ-phobic or do other people find this gross?

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  1. hyacinthgirl RE: charlesbois Apr 2, 2013 06:07 AM

    I'm trying to picture this, is the issue that the handle was somehow touching the food? Usually when I see a serving utensil in a dish, the handle is sticking out and so the actual serving element that is making contact with the food is only ever touching the food and the individual's (presumably) clean plate. In that case, I don't find it gross at all.

    If the serving handle were touching the food, I'd get annoyed, mostly because that would mean if I touched the handle, I'd get food on my hands.

    I wouldn't find this particular situation germ-gross, personally. But then, if I thought the group on a whole was dirty and disgusting, I probably wouldn't want to eat their food no matter how the serving utensil was placed in or near it.

    8 Replies
    1. re: hyacinthgirl
      charlesbois RE: hyacinthgirl Apr 2, 2013 06:13 AM

      It was just a knife, used to cut and lift out a chunk of cake or pie. The handle would definitely be left touching the food.

      If it were something like a pie server with an offset handle, I wouldn't have a problem with that being left in. Unfortunately we didn't have one of those available. Not sure why because the kitchen was relatively well stocked with other implements.

      Oh and sometimes if it were things like donuts or cookies, someone would only want half, and put the knife in the box after cutting one.

      Some folks would bring in bakery goods, ie that they didn't prepare themselves, so it's not like all the food was prepared by dirty folks. It's just that people would ruin food by contaminating it with dirty utensils.

      1. re: charlesbois
        Midknight RE: charlesbois Apr 2, 2013 08:06 AM

        Sorry, but I still don't see what the dilemma is. Whether the utensil is left in the serving bowl, or on the plate on the side, it is still only ever grabbed by the handle and food is scooped out with the spoon end. So how it is more dirty if it's left in?

        Actually, thinking about it, there may be even more potential for contamination if it's on the side as people may use it in another dish, the serving end is always exposed to people touching it, not to mention it's open to anything landing or splashing on it.

        1. re: Midknight
          charlesbois RE: Midknight Apr 2, 2013 08:50 AM

          The handle was left touching the food.

          1. re: charlesbois
            gourmanda RE: charlesbois Apr 2, 2013 09:05 AM

            If it freaks you out why not use a clean utensil and cut the offensive piece off? Or cut from another side entirely? And, if you are the one who "gets the ball rolling" why is this an issue? Doesn't seem that it would concern you unless you are going back for seconds or thirds.

            1. re: gourmanda
              melpy RE: gourmanda Apr 4, 2013 08:12 AM

              The OP is a server. Not eating the cake.

              1. re: melpy
                gourmanda RE: melpy Apr 4, 2013 08:16 AM

                "The OP is a server. Not eating the cake." Huh?

                1. re: gourmanda
                  melpy RE: gourmanda Apr 4, 2013 08:20 AM

                  It states he worked in place where people brought in dessert and he would ...

                  My mistake, I read this as him being a waiter serving cake family style. Had to reread it five times to understand. Never mind.

                  1. re: melpy
                    gourmanda RE: melpy Apr 4, 2013 08:25 AM

                    No worries :)

    2. Gio RE: charlesbois Apr 2, 2013 08:13 AM

      Can't someone (maybe you) wash the serving utensil in hot soapy water every once in a while?

      1. MGZ RE: charlesbois Apr 2, 2013 08:16 AM

        I'm at a loss to figure out what you're worried about. If you're that soft about germs don't leave home, or at least, don't eat anything in your workplace. Also, make sure you keep wetnaps in your pockets to palm when you open doors.

        1. c
          charlesbois RE: charlesbois Apr 2, 2013 08:47 AM

          Wow quite surprised by the responses, especially the snark. I don't work there anymore but it always squicked me out that used knives were left in the pie plate or cake dish or the donut box. I guess I thought of it more as going to a buffet and having the serving utensils just left floating in the food. But looks like people are ok with that.

          2 Replies
          1. re: charlesbois
            Terrie H. RE: charlesbois Apr 2, 2013 08:54 AM

            There are lots of people who post questions similar to yours on this site - constantly. Frankly, most people don't seem to have issues with situations like this. If it is an issue for you, avoid that food. But, honestly -- a knife or spoon left in the dish for the next person to use doesn't seem any more scary than the actual food left for the next person. No one has actually touched to food, right?

            1. re: charlesbois
              MGZ RE: charlesbois Apr 2, 2013 09:09 AM

              "But looks like people are ok with that."

              Can you explain what's wrong with it, in your mind?

            2. pinehurst RE: charlesbois Apr 2, 2013 08:59 AM

              At places where food is served buffet style (a few recent weddings I've attended), it bothers me more when folks leave the lid up on hot foods. But I digress.

              It would bother me more if folks did this with soupy/mushy foods. Leave the pie server in the box with the apple pie? No big deal. Leave a serving spoon floating an a chafing dish full of baked beans? No, but because I'd be touching baked beans on the handle. Not because of germs.

              1. melpy RE: charlesbois Apr 2, 2013 08:59 AM

                I think this might be a little over the top sensitive unless the handle touches the food. If I have pie or cake etc. and cut it, the handle would then be in the area that the last piece of food had vacated, no?
                I would have to see a picture but on the whole this is a non issue in my life.

                1. p
                  pollymerase RE: charlesbois Apr 2, 2013 09:10 AM

                  I also don't have an issue with this. I grew up in a family that always left the knife in the pan of brownies, pie, cake, etc and I have attended more potlucks than I could possible count. I seem to be quite healthy.

                  1. f
                    fourunder RE: charlesbois Apr 2, 2013 09:35 AM

                    A lot of times I'd get the ball rolling by cutting a slice of whatever was offered, then putting the serving utensil on a separate plate to the side....

                    I'm confused, you indicate you are the first to touch the knife, so aren't you the first to put the germs on the handle? By your standards, the second person should have issue with you leaving the knife ...even if left on a separate plate for reuse.

                    3 Replies
                    1. re: fourunder
                      melpy RE: fourunder Apr 4, 2013 08:13 AM

                      The OP was a server in a restaurant. Not eating the cake which is why the OP woul use a separate plate and then folks would dig in.

                      1. re: melpy
                        MGZ RE: melpy Apr 4, 2013 08:15 AM

                        What did you base that assumption on?

                        1. re: MGZ
                          melpy RE: MGZ Apr 4, 2013 08:22 AM

                          See above. I read it as he was a server and people would bring in outside food to be served at the conclusion of the meal.

                    2. h
                      HoosierFoodie RE: charlesbois Apr 2, 2013 10:02 AM

                      I, too, have no issue with this.

                      1. DagingKuda RE: charlesbois Apr 2, 2013 11:39 AM

                        I think most people missed your clarification below that the utensil "fell into" the food - ie. the part people touched with their hands is now touching the food.

                        In that situation, I wash the utensil, then serve myself from a section that had not yet been touched by the utensil.

                        The gross thing is when someone uses their hands to break a donut, bagel or muffin in two, and then leaves behind one half with a clearly defined thumb dent in it.

                        1. westsidegal RE: charlesbois Apr 4, 2013 10:03 PM

                          i've seen the same thing go on for serving tongs that are place with the handles IN THE FOOD at grocery stores that put out sample trays.

                          1. e
                            ellaf RE: charlesbois Apr 6, 2013 02:20 PM

                            I too would not be bothered. Whether the serving utensil is left in the dish touching the food or on a plate nearby it seems to me to have the same level of germyness on the handle or wherever. I honestly don't see the difference.

                            I would be one of the offenders. Why clean an extra plate?

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