Plastic cutlery question

I have never seen on any package of plastic cutlery the word sanitized. Are these things clean or should you wash them well before using them? Also, is it true that these knives, forks and spoons are packaged by mentally handicapped individuals with dubious hygiene?

Funny you should mention it …

My sister, an officer in the Air-Force took a temporary job for some extra cash before going on active duty at a factory that makes these things for McDonald’s in Mississippi. Based on my conversations with her, I can tell you two things: 1. the cutlery is handled with care, but mostly by machine, and employees wear plastic gloves and caps, and 2. although not mentally-handicapped, the employees were generally what you’d expect of a rural backwater.

Sanitized implies a particular procedure for ensuring cleanliness. Although no such process occurs, the cutlery is created in high-temperature injection molds and pre-packaged by machine. It’s pretty clean, even if you don’t get it in a plastic wrapper. What happens to it once it reaches it’s destination is another matter.

Yes, god forbid you touch anything packed by an individual with mental handicap! Because you might catch mental handicap off them, I suppose.

Could I ask you to consider that many people would find a statement that links mental handicap and uncleanness to be ignorant, shallow and stupid?

I’m certain that wasn’t your intention, but you make yourself look bad by making such a statement. If you actually met a few people with “mental handicap” you might feel differently.

Fighting whatever it is since 1973,


If you took notice, he said nothing about mentally handicapped people as a whole being unclean, he said “mentally handicapped individuals with dubious hygeine”, which is totally different. He was meaning mentally handicapped people who also happen to have poor hygeine. Mayhaps you just misunderstood?

Redboss has a real point. There is a long list of negative stereotypes associated with people with developmental disabilities:

Age demeaned
Dead or dying

associating them with dirt (waste and disease) feeds into a universal social stereotype that automatically brings certain expectations to mind.

Similar stereotypes affect other negatively valued groups.

To Dirty Dingus

If you are so sure the OP is inoffensive, how would you feel if it had been:

‘Also, is it true that these knives, forks and spoons are packaged by black individuals with dubious hygiene?’

Take note, too, that in another twenty years or so, that phrase will be considered hideously offensive.

I once cut my finger on a plastic butter knife (the details aren’t important, lets just say that it wasn’t my proudest moment) and I did not, I repeat did NOT, develop any nasty bacterial infections and my finger did not turn gangrenous, so one can assume that the knife was relatively clean.

I think it was from Long John Silver’s. Possibly McDonalds.

I agree completely. In fact in some arenas it already is. But if we are to protect people of low social value, we must attempt to use the form of description that is perceived as, at least, non-harmful, and at best, value-improving.

Just because currently acceptable terms will date does nor give us license to use objectionable and possibly harmful terms.

This has gotten way off-topic. I suggest that the thread be closed or moved to GD.

I have worked in Developmental centers for 15 years in vocational rehabilitation programs.I have a great fondness and respect for these people. I would never belittle or disrespect them in any way. Many of the clients were very low functioning and had extremly poor hygiene. I complained strongly about having these individuals work on items to be used for impliments to eat with. One job we contracted was plastic knives forks and spoons. Some of the clients had problems holding the cutlery in their hands and opening the plastic bags, so they put the items in their mouth to open the bag. When they used the bathrooms, no one followed them in to assure that they washed their hands. Another job was rubber gloves used for washing dishes. Clients, some with with hepatitis B, would blow up the gloves to see it there were any holes in them. After testing the gloves they were sealed in plastic and shipped out. What I have just stated here is the truth and from my own experience. I have taken these clients to shopping malls, movies, banking and paid them each week for their work. I am in no way an enemy of these people. I am very sorry if I gave the wrong or misleading impression. It was an honest question.

Interesting reply - worth a thread of its own, perhaps.

I guess I did misunderstand. I have a couple of friends who fall into the category of mentally handicapped, and I am aware of the difficulties they meet in life, so I am rather eager when I can defend the rights and good name of people who are different.

But you raise a good point Insider mate, especially when you put it into context like your second post does.

I suppose the difficulty is how do we protect the rights of people who have limited abilities, and ensure they have freedom of choice, when some of their choices may infringe the rights of others. The usual kinds of negotiation that takes place, between neighbours or workmates for example, just may not be adequate.

I realise we are SO off-topic, but did you, Insider while you were working in that field come up with ideas or possible solutions for these issues - apart from us all washing the plasic forks, of course? What’s your opinion?



Anyone with the ability to work and who is motivated to work should be able to find work and perform it for pay. I had clients who had IQ’s ranging from 30-69. I always loved to have them working and being contributing members of society. Taking these folks to the store after they were paid was one of the best parts of my job. Any work that was available for them I trained them to complete to the best of their ability. Anyone of any ability who have questionable hygiene should not be working on jobs that come in contact with food and peoples mouths. The answer is the right job for the right individual. If there is anyone who could be considered an advocate for these folks it is me. I just do not want anyone to end up sick, because someone who was responsible for this work did not take the right precautions. With the exception of the last two years working in the computer department of a large psychiatric center, I worked as the supervisor of a work program utilizing over 200 patients and a budget of over $300,000.00 for the past 14 years. I am not sure if this qualifies me for being an advocate of the disabled, but I think that it does. If there are anymore questions I will gladly answer them.

The answer to your question is that we should try to find constructive work for all people who want it, whatever their disability. However, this work should be appropriate to their skills and abilities. If hygiene is lacking from a person (whether because of their disability or otherwise) and it is a basic requirement for the job, then another job should be found.

The problem is that people hear this sort of thread and it gradually becomes an urban legend- ‘Did you know that your plastic cutlery is made by dirty retards?’, and then people come to see all people with developmental disability as dirty. This is how negative stereotyping occurs. Bu employing people with disability in clearly inappropriate tasks, we are doing the image of these people no good at all.

This is one example of how well-meaning intervention, not based in the real world, can end up having unexpected and often negative effects. Anyone who thought about the work program should have been able to see that the some of the people being used for the job were not suitable for that particular task. The fact that it was not seen, shows that full regard was not being given to the real needs of the service users.