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  #1  
Old 01-08-2011, 11:04 AM
Erdosain Erdosain is offline
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Buffet etiquette question: new plate every trip?

I haven't eaten at a lot of buffets, so I'm not sure what the proper etiquette is regarding plates.

At a big buffet, the servers are constantly clearing plates and so it seems that a new plate for each trip is a no-brainer. However, the other day I was eating at a small Indian restaurant buffet, and I felt guilty/stupid for getting a new plate for each trip. However, I also thought it might be gross (for the other patrons) if I re-used a plate, kind of like double-dipping a chip.

What's the etiquette and does it change depending on the size of the place? For the record, I got a new plate for each trip but felt self-conscious about creating a bunch of extra dirty plates that would have to be washed.
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  #2  
Old 01-08-2011, 11:06 AM
Crafter_Man Crafter_Man is online now
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You should always use a new plate for each trip. I believe it's the law in many places.
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  #3  
Old 01-08-2011, 11:12 AM
DCnDC DCnDC is offline
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The few times I've been coerced or taken to one of these places (don't get me started) I've always gotten a new plate each trip. There's a giant stack of constantly refilled plates for a reason.
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  #4  
Old 01-08-2011, 11:23 AM
lindsaybluth lindsaybluth is offline
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Yeah, it's the law around here. And it's cleaner. Don't feel bad doing it. Signs at my Indian buffets encourage you to.
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  #5  
Old 01-08-2011, 12:35 PM
Erdosain Erdosain is offline
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Thanks, everyone. I guess I was just over-thinking it. Now I want to go to the Indian buffet again. I swear I could eat about five plates of gulab jamun.
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  #6  
Old 01-08-2011, 12:40 PM
Sampiro Sampiro is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Crafter_Man View Post
You should always use a new plate for each trip. I believe it's the law in many places.
Totally. It's not only gross but it's unhygienic.

Etiquette I'll add: if it's an all you can eat buffet that means, obviously, you can refill your plate as often as you like. For this reason please don't load down a plate like it's you're laying in for a siege- plates piled 4 inches high with food are just tacky and a nuisance (I've seen too many people lose half their cargo en route back to the table). Most people aren't going to notice or care if you go back 5 times and if they do, so what?

Last edited by Sampiro; 01-08-2011 at 12:41 PM..
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  #7  
Old 01-08-2011, 12:52 PM
jz78817 jz78817 is offline
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yes, every buffet I've ever been to has had signs at the serving tables that say use a clean plate every time.
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  #8  
Old 01-08-2011, 01:31 PM
Tamerlane Tamerlane is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sampiro View Post

Etiquette I'll add: if it's an all you can eat buffet that means, obviously, you can refill your plate as often as you like.
Against the law in CA.

Quote:
Most people aren't going to notice or care if you go back 5 times and if they do, so what?
The law, man! THE LAW!! At any given moment they have undercover agents at half the all-you-can-eat buffets in CA. How do you thing we got into this budget crisis ?

Suuuure, you might get away with it once or twice. But after you've been tackled, tasered, then beaten with a baton and fined a $100,000, you'll think twice about re-using your filthy, soiled plates again .

ETA: Y'know, re-reading your post I think I misunderstood. So never mind.

Last edited by Tamerlane; 01-08-2011 at 01:33 PM..
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  #9  
Old 01-08-2011, 01:53 PM
Shakes Shakes is offline
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I just lick my plate clean and head on back to the buffet.
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  #10  
Old 01-08-2011, 05:11 PM
Sampiro Sampiro is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tamerlane
ETA: Y'know, re-reading your post I think I misunderstood. So never mind.
My fault, poor wording. I meant "you can get another plate and return to the buffet five times".
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  #11  
Old 01-08-2011, 06:17 PM
cochrane cochrane is online now
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Yeah, definitely the law.

And think, if the person who got a refill before you didn't use a clean plate, that means the serving spoon or spatula he used touched his dirty plate, then went back into the food, potentially transferring bacteria from his mouth via his utensils back into the common pan of food. So, yeah, a new plate is good hygiene practice.
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  #12  
Old 01-08-2011, 06:57 PM
Ellen Cherry Ellen Cherry is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sampiro View Post
please don't load down a plate like it's you're laying in for a siege-
"A siege! Oh, turn the horse around. I'm going home, back home to Tara, right away."

"What ails you?"

"A siege! Name of God, a siege! I've heard about sieges! Pa was in one or maybe it was his Pa, and Pa told me—"

"What siege?"

"The siege at Drogheda when Cromwell had the Irish, and they didn't have anything to eat and Pa said they starved and died in the streets and finally they ate all the cats and rats and even things like cockroaches. And he said they ate each other too, before they surrendered, though I never did know whether to believe that or not. And when Cromwell took the town all the women were— A Siege! Mother of God!"
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  #13  
Old 01-08-2011, 07:18 PM
Candyman74 Candyman74 is offline
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Originally Posted by Sampiro View Post
Totally. It's not only gross but it's unhygienic.
Huh? How so? Put something on a plate, eat it, put something else on the plate. How is that gross or unhygienic?

If you're all sitting round a dinner table and you've cleared your plate, is it unhygienic to grab seconds from the food bowls on the table?

Yikes. If this is unhygienic, then I'm the most disgusting person around. It would never occur to me that a plate I've just finished eating off has suddenly become unsuitable for me to continue eating off.
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  #14  
Old 01-08-2011, 07:20 PM
Candyman74 Candyman74 is offline
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Originally Posted by cochrane View Post
And think, if the person who got a refill before you didn't use a clean plate, that means the serving spoon or spatula he used touched his dirty plate, then went back into the food, potentially transferring bacteria from his mouth via his utensils back into the common pan of food. So, yeah, a new plate is good hygiene practice.
Ah, now I get it. Yes, that's a good point. The serving spoon didn't occur to me.
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  #15  
Old 01-09-2011, 10:06 PM
Amblydoper Amblydoper is offline
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Originally Posted by Erdosain View Post
...[I] self-conscious about creating a bunch of extra dirty plates that would have to be washed.
A Dishwasher's job:
Pick up plate, place in dish rack.
Pick up plate, place in dish rack.
Pick up plate, place in dish rack.
Pick up plate, place in dish rack.
Pick up plate, place in dish rack.
Pick up plate, place in dish rack.
Pick up plate, place in dish rack.
Pick up plate, place in dish rack.
Pick up plate, place in dish rack.
Pick up plate, place in dish rack.
Pick up plate, place in dish rack.
Pick up plate, place in dish rack.
Slide dish rack into machine.
Putaway clean plates.
Repeat for 8 hours.

A few extra plates won't make a difference.
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  #16  
Old 01-09-2011, 11:40 PM
heathen earthling heathen earthling is offline
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Originally Posted by Candyman74 View Post
Ah, now I get it. Yes, that's a good point. The serving spoon didn't occur to me.
Then why not worry about the germs you could get from other people putting their hands on the serving spoons? I can follow what cochrane says, but I'm not convinced that it isn't a negligible thing to be concerned about.
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  #17  
Old 01-10-2011, 12:26 AM
Lynn Bodoni Lynn Bodoni is offline
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Used plates are unhygienic. However, IMO, the unsupervised kids are worse. The kids are apt to do all sorts of things at the buffet that are not really sanitary, and the parents (or whoever) are not supervising them, or not supervising them enough.

Reason #583 why I no longer eat at buffets, if I can possibly avoid it.
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  #18  
Old 01-10-2011, 12:45 AM
Alan Smithee Alan Smithee is offline
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I don't drag the serving spoon across my plate every time I serve myself food. I don't think I ever touch my plate with the serving spoon at all. And frankly, even if every person in the restaurant set the serving utensil for each dish on their plate every time they went to the buffet, it would spread fewer germs than breathing in the restaurant. It's not like I lick my plate either, you know. Should people wear face masks when they go through the line, too?
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  #19  
Old 01-10-2011, 03:01 AM
Mangetout Mangetout is offline
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It's a formal matter of hygiene, rather than a practical one. The transference of bacteria from mouth to plate, then plate to serving utensil is going to be minuscule - greatly outweighed by the sources of contamination you can't really control (airborne bacteria, people touching the business end of serving utensils, etc).

This is one of those things that is done to reassure people that hygiene precautions are being observed, rather than to offer any meaningful, measurable level of protection.
(Well, it might also be done to stop people putting items back that they took too much of, then decided they didn't like)
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  #20  
Old 01-10-2011, 08:33 PM
jasonh300 jasonh300 is offline
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Originally Posted by heathen earthling View Post
Then why not worry about the germs you could get from other people putting their hands on the serving spoons? I can follow what cochrane says, but I'm not convinced that it isn't a negligible thing to be concerned about.
Let's hope that the restaurant has one of those no-touch automatic soap dispensers in the bathroom. That way, each person eating the buffet (who all wash their hands before going to the buffet table) won't have picked up germs from the soap dispenser before washing their hands.

My personal experience with buffets is to turn around and leave if there's a lot of kids around. I've seen unattended children putting their hands into the food on the buffet table...immediately after having their fingers in their nose.

If any ungloved hands are touching the serving utensils, bacteria is likely being transferred to the food.

Buffets are pretty gross.

However, I do firmly believe that we've turned into an anemic, sickly society because of this germophobia. Our immune systems get lazy from constant handwashing and use of sanitizers, etc.
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  #21  
Old 01-11-2011, 12:11 PM
brad_d brad_d is offline
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Originally Posted by Mangetout View Post
This is one of those things that is done to reassure people that hygiene precautions are being observed, rather than to offer any meaningful, measurable level of protection.
I'm strongly inclined to agree with this.

In our own home, and in just about every residence I've ever eaten in, communal food items are handled in ways that blatantly violate commercial health codes in several ways. Nobody gets a new plate when they grab a second helping of pasta salad; when we have more guests than our table can handle, there are no sneeze guards over on the kitchen counter where the food dishes are lined up; we even have children touching stuff.
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  #22  
Old 01-11-2011, 12:28 PM
overlyverbose overlyverbose is offline
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I have to agree with Lynn - unsupervised kids are pretty bad at buffets. The worst thing I've ever seen, though, was a few weeks ago when I went to a local Indian buffet and the woman in front of me, while gabbing with her friend, grabbed some food off the buffet with her hand, sniffed it and put it back. It was really disgusting.

Oh, and with respect to the OP - yes, use another plate. Whether it's a hygiene issue or not, it's good form. You can use the same plate at home.
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  #23  
Old 01-11-2011, 02:43 PM
MrSquishy MrSquishy is offline
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Originally Posted by Mangetout View Post
This is one of those things that is done to reassure people that hygiene precautions are being observed, rather than to offer any meaningful, measurable level of protection.
Ah, "hygiene theatre".
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  #24  
Old 01-11-2011, 03:28 PM
Enderw24 Enderw24 is offline
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Originally Posted by MrSquishy View Post
Ah, "hygiene theatre".
More uses for my speculum!
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  #25  
Old 01-11-2011, 03:33 PM
lisalan lisalan is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Erdosain View Post
I haven't eaten at a lot of buffets, so I'm not sure what the proper etiquette is regarding plates.

At a big buffet, the servers are constantly clearing plates and so it seems that a new plate for each trip is a no-brainer. However, the other day I was eating at a small Indian restaurant buffet, and I felt guilty/stupid for getting a new plate for each trip. However, I also thought it might be gross (for the other patrons) if I re-used a plate, kind of like double-dipping a chip.

What's the etiquette and does it change depending on the size of the place? For the record, I got a new plate for each trip but felt self-conscious about creating a bunch of extra dirty plates that would have to be washed.

You shuld never feel guilty for not exposing others to your bodily fluids
Use a new plate each time.
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  #26  
Old 01-11-2011, 03:35 PM
lisalan lisalan is offline
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Originally Posted by heathen earthling View Post
Then why not worry about the germs you could get from other people putting their hands on the serving spoons? I can follow what cochrane says, but I'm not convinced that it isn't a negligible thing to be concerned about.
That is gross too.
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  #27  
Old 01-11-2011, 05:42 PM
Eyebrows 0f Doom Eyebrows 0f Doom is offline
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Originally Posted by lisalan View Post
That is gross too.
Touching the handle of a spoon someone else has touched is gross to you? Do you keep your hands in your pockets 24 hours a day and never touch anything or what?

That's not cleanliness, that's paranoia.

Last edited by Eyebrows 0f Doom; 01-11-2011 at 05:43 PM..
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  #28  
Old 01-11-2011, 06:13 PM
lisalan lisalan is offline
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Originally Posted by Eyebrows 0f Doom View Post
Touching the handle of a spoon someone else has touched is gross to you? Do you keep your hands in your pockets 24 hours a day and never touch anything or what?

That's not cleanliness, that's paranoia.
UMMMMM. Do you know how many people touch serving spoons at a buffet? I'm sure some of they may have picked their noses or used the washroom without washing their hands.
I don't call that paranoia.
Yeah that's right I wear gloves all day
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  #29  
Old 01-12-2011, 10:57 AM
Idle Thoughts Idle Thoughts is online now
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I dunno, I've always used the spoon and tong handles at buffets and I haven't been overly sick yet. I, too, would call it mild paranoia.

But not to get into a hijack about that, to the OP, I always get a new plate. I think some places actually have signs up saying you should get a new one each time.
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  #30  
Old 01-12-2011, 04:10 PM
Eyebrows 0f Doom Eyebrows 0f Doom is offline
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Originally Posted by lisalan View Post
UMMMMM. Do you know how many people touch serving spoons at a buffet? I'm sure some of they may have picked their noses or used the washroom without washing their hands.
I don't call that paranoia.
Yeah that's right I wear gloves all day
OMG OMG! You know how many people touch doors ever day! Or phones?! Or supermarket wagons? Or railings on stairs? Or elevator buttons? Oh my God I can't touch anything because they all have germmmmmmms!
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  #31  
Old 01-12-2011, 04:38 PM
awldune awldune is offline
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I always assumed it was to keep "responsible" people from putting back the food they didn't eat.
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