We typically avoid buffet, in our family. And we encourage parents with children to do the same. Why?
Buffets seek to fill the customer’s belly as cheaply and as quickly as possible. To do so, they employ a number of research-backed tricks to get people to eat less food:
- Buffets encourages over-eating. The very nature of an all-you-can eat buffet drives diners to eat as much as possible to get their money’s worth.
- They put the cheap, filling stuff at the front of the buffet line: (Study: 75% of buffet customers select whatever food is in the first tray — and 66% of all the food they consume comes from the first 3 trays.)
- They use larger than average serving spoons for things like potatoes, and smaller than average tongs for meats.
- Buffet foods rest in steam tables, ice baths, or salad bars. If improperly tended, these buffet stations can allow disease causing bacteria and viruses to flourish.
- Since customers, self-serve, food comes in contact with potentially sneezing, sniffling, unhygienic customers – especially the handles the serving tongs. According to a 2013 study from Michigan State University, only 5 percent of people wash their hands in the CDC recommended manner.
- Buffets are poor at temperature control. Hot buffet foods should be kept at 140 degrees Fahrenheit, preferably at steam tables, which heat more evenly than Sterno burners. Cold foods should be kept at 40 degrees in refrigerated units or ice baths, according to experts.
- They frequently refill water and use extra-large glasses. Buffets don’t stop there: Many improve their margins by selling soft drinks separately. At a cost of $0.12 per fill, a $2 soda comes with a 1,500% markup.
- Buffet food follows the industrial cooking model. It is cooked not for taste but for profits.
- Buffets operate on extremely thin margins. So they use leftovers from previous day or discards from wholesalers to make the food. Consequently the food is of less nutritional value.
- In a typical buffet, it is estimated that between 5% and 25% of any given dish will be wasted. What lesson do we teach our kids with it?
- Items may not always be what they seem: If you are a vegetarian or vegan, or on gluten free diet, for example, avoid buffets. Buffer cooks are over-worked and cross-contaminations usually happens.
- Buffets often use processed ingredients and packaged condiments, dressings and sauces. These have high fructose corn syrup, monosodium glutamate (MSG) and/or trans fats, among an array of other potential chemical additives.
What should you do?
- Avoid buffets.
- If you cannot, Take advantage of the small plates on offer. Don’t take a tray either.
- Don’t sit facing the buffet. Sit as far away from it as you can. Studies show that twice as many overweight folks face the food as normal-weight patrons, and overweight buffet patrons sit 16 feet closer to the food than normal-weight diners.
- Don’t grab a plate and hop in line; take a look around first.
- Eat from only one plate at a time.
- Always eat a plate full of vegetables (e.g Salad) before you eat anything else.
- Between courses, drink a full glass of water and wait five minutes before getting more food.
- Look for anything that’s grilled or oven-roasted, without breading or sauce.
- Avoid seafoods. There’s a huge potential for illness there, especially when those foods aren’t kept at the proper temperature.
- Choose fresh fruits for dessert.
Remember: Every year, about 76 million cases of food-borne disease occur in the U.S., according to the CDC. While the vast majority of people have a day or two of vomiting, cramps, or diarrhea, food-borne illnesses cause roughly 325,000 hospitalizations and 5,000 deaths annually.
Source: Internet & Others
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