Are You A Double Dipper?Tuesday, January 3, 2012
My grandma is the quintessential double dipper—or shall I say triple or quadruple dipper. She likes to dip her bread in the cream cheese container, re-dip in the container and again for a third time to get any cream cheese lingering on the container cover. Is this just an unappetizing habit or can it actually make you sick?
My grandma isn’t the only double dipper in the family—certain other nameless family members like to use their personal utensils to scoop seconds from the communal dish. This is a habit both my husband and I can’t stomach…and for good reason.
About 95% of the population naturally carries the bacteria Staphylococcus aureus (AKA Staph). It’s typically found in humans — on their skin, hair, nose, and throat. It’s also prevalent in folks who have colds or the flu, which is common this time of year.
Think about it: You’re serving stew for dinner. Your guest re-fills their plate using their own fork. You now have a new dish: Stew a la Staph! I don’t need to be eating a meal filled with everyone’s bacteria and neither do you.
Buffets often have the issue of double dipping. Customers will pick up food with their hands from the buffet bar, or use one tong to serve numerous dishes. They’ll also taste food with their fingers or stick their heads under the sneeze guard to reach items. Oftentimes buffets have signs for you to identify the foods and station an employee at the buffet bar to help folks out.
One of the biggest issues on a buffet is re-using plates. Once you finish eating, you have saliva on you plate. If the serving spoon touches the plate, the main dish then becomes contaminated with the customer’s saliva. This is why buffet joints bus dishes at light speed.
There are several ways to prevent the spread of bacteria at homemade meal. First, provide a serving spoon for every dish. That seems to lower the incident of guests using their own utensils to serve themselves. Second, make sure to have everyone wash their hands before the meal begins. This will reduce the number of bacteria on everyone’s hands. I usually yell for the kids to go wash their hands before dinner and the adults tend to follow.
I also toss any food I suspect has been double dipped. As my husband always says, “I don’t want to be French kissing our guests the next day!”
TELL ME: Are you a double dipper?Filed under Food Safety | Comments: more