HOME > Chowhound > Not About Food >

Discussion

Utensils left in the serving dish

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?

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
Delete
  1. 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

      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

        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

          The handle was left touching the food.

          1. re: charlesbois

            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

              The OP is a server. Not eating the cake.

              1. re: melpy

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

                1. re: gourmanda

                  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.

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

      1. 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. 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

            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

              "But looks like people are ok with that."

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

            2. 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. 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. 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. 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

                      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

                        What did you base that assumption on?

                        1. re: MGZ

                          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. I, too, have no issue with this.

                      1. 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. 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.
                          yuck

                          1. 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?