Why do some restaurant buffets not have a sneeze guard?

Some colleagues and I went to a Chinese restaurant this afternoon, and to my surprise the buffet items were not under a sneeze guard. I was under the impression that the same type of health regulations that mandated a clean plate with each buffet visit also required a sneeze guard over the food.

The food was presented on plates (without plate covers) on round tables. They weren’t in the traditional metal trays elevated over a sterno flame.

When I commented on this to some friends, I was told that there was another Indian restaurant that had buffet items that weren’t under a sneeze guard.

For the record the Chinese restaurant has been in the same location for years, so if they were violating health department regulations, I think they would have been told.

So am I mistaken? Are there some situations when a restaurant doesn’t need to put up sneeze guards?

The reason is that some restaureurs are skanks who don’t believe in saniation or the germ theory of disease. The unsafe conditions that can exist in the back room of a restaurant can boggle the mind. So, if you get a hint of a problem, like rat dropping on a plate, or no sneeze guards, well…
GO Eat Someplace Else, DAMMIT!

I’m not complaining about the restaurant.

This is a nice, reputable restaurant, in an upscale neighborhood and serves great tasting food. The buffet food is always hot, despite the fact there are no heat lamps and sternos (maybe that’s one reason it’s so good), and the presentation of the buffet is outstanding. I’m not a germ freak, and am not personally concerned that there are no sneeze guards.

There are no indications this is an unhealthy restaurant, which leads to the real point of my question…

Is the existence of a sneeze guard at restaurants a health department requirement, or is it just something that restaurants do because they think it’s a good idea? Again, this restaurant has been here a long time, and I think would have run into some issues unless they weren’t required to have a sneeze guard.

My parents run a restaraunt and kitchen equipment business in the ‘four states’ area IIRC laws on sanitation are governed at the state, and local levels. Some states have much more stringent guidelines about things such as hair coverings, sneeze guards, # of sinks required for dish washing, etc…

NP: Crosby, Stills, and Nash - Daylight Again

What state do you live in aaelghat?

Illinois. The restaurant I’m talking about is in Vernon Hills, a far northern suburb of Chicago.