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The Grossest Things About Eating at a Buffet

Updated August 6, 2019 985.5k views11 items

Ever wondered, "What are the worst things about eating at a buffet?" The answer seems fairly straightforward: germs, food safety and the fact that most buffets seem frozen in time in terms of decor and design. 

The buffet seems like a no-lose situation in concept. It provides lots of food, both in variety and quantity, for a cheap price. Even better, you can refill your plate as many times as you like. But when you go out into the world and visit some of these restaurants, you realize exactly why buffets are gross. 

This list of gross things about buffets may be enough to help you avoid the all-you-can-eat option for good. Your stomach may flip like a pancake when you realize just how many gross facts about buffets exist.

  • One Pair of Tongs Can Be Used All Day

    Photo: Pexels / Pixabay/CC0 1.0

    While there are strict rules on food temperature for buffets, there are no such regulations for the utensils used to serve your meal. Next time you grab a ladle or a pair of tongs at a buffet, take a moment to think about how long they may have been out there and how many people touched them before you did.

    Alternatively, if you get frustrated enough to serve yourself with your hands and/or launch a kitchen utensil, you might find yourself in handcuffs, much like this Portland, OR, woman did for her actions at an area buffet. 

  • Food Is Often Kept at the Wrong Temperature

    The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) maintains strict guidelines on food temperatures to guard against illness. The FDA advises hot food be kept and served at a temperature of at least 140 degrees or more. When you consider some buffet warmers are designed to keep the food at 110-120 degrees, you see how you might fall victim to a buffet without even realizing it. 

  • The Food Can Sit There for Hours

    Photo: Jaymethunt / Pixabay/CC0 1.0


    Timing is everything when hitting up a buffet. Regardless of the food quality, fresh and piping hot food is certainly more appealing than the alternative. Ideally, you want to get there within 30 minutes of the buffet opening. If you wait until just before the buffet closes, the food could easily have been sitting for hours. 

    The other problem is that food can sit for hours before it even gets to the buffet serving stations. For instance, a manager was fired from a Golden Corral when a video emerged showing raw steak being stored outside by the dumpsters.


  • There Are Dirty Plates Everywhere

    A research study showed that diners at buffets were less likely to go back for food a second or third time if their dirty plate was left on the table. Buffet owners, in a ploy to maximize their profits, often instruct busboys to leave dirty plates on dining tables until after the diners leave. It's good for business owners because their profits are higher, but bad for customers because they get less value for their money and have to eat in a dining room littered with dirty plates - a truly unappetizing sight.