Five Tips for Enjoying a Buffet without Getting Sick

Five Tips for Enjoying a Buffet without Getting Sick Five Tips for Enjoying a Buffet without Getting Sick

Having lunch or dinner at a buffet comes with a lot of benefits. If you’re really hungry, it ensures you’re full before you leave without having to spend a fortune on appetizers and desserts. It’s a great way to try new foods that you may not be familiar with, and if you’re eating with others, you can be sure that there’s something everyone will like.

That doesn’t mean buffets are all good. There are things you have to be cautious about when eating at a buffet too. Follow these tips to lower your chances of getting sick.

Avoid Foods That Are Most Likely to Make You Sick

The first thing you should be on the lookout for when you go to the buffet is types of foods that are most likely to make you sick. Foods to avoid at a buffet include:

  • Sprouts
  • Sushi
  • Tuna
  • Raw oysters
  • Bread
  • Sliced lemons

There are other foods you may want to be cautious of as well, just because they are most likely to make you sick, whether you eat them at a buffet, a restaurant, or at home. For example, over 140,000 people get salmonella from eggs every year. You may want to avoid leafy greens and precut fruit too.

Instead, focus on eating foods that are properly heated and chilled that you don’t always get to eat at home. Pile your plate with well-cooked fried chicken, cooked vegetables, and specialty pizza.

Look for Signs of Cleanliness

No matter what buffet you’re at or what you’re eating, you should always look for signs of cleanliness. That’s because buffets—even the clean ones—are grosser than you think.

How long does it take for a server to wipe up a mess that is made when food is spilled outside its container on the buffet line? Are new utensils brought out with food fresh from the kitchen, or are the previous utensils used again? Are countertops, sneeze guards, and other surfaces cleaned regularly?

Cleaning also includes tables. All tables should be wiped down and should not be sticky. You know the staff is going above and beyond if they also wipe the seats down when cleaning place settings between diners.

Wash Your Hands Often

Germs spread fast at restaurants, and especially at buffets. People touch a lot more at a buffet than they do at a restaurant, and every time something is touched, germs are left behind.

You can do your part by washing your hands often. Take a trip to the bathroom to wash your hands before you head to the buffet line, and wash your hands when you’re done. If you use hand sanitizer between trips to fill your plate, that’s even better.

Not only will you prevent your germs from spreading through the restaurant, but you’ll also lessen your chances of picking up someone else’s germs that could make you sick.

Watch the Utensils


Restaurant silverware is dirtier than you think, but the utensils at a buffet are even worse. Multiple people use the same utensil before it is washed, making it much more likely for you to pick up germs on your way through the buffet line.

Never rescue a utensil that has become buried in the food. Instead, alert the buffet staff right away so the utensil, and possibly even the food, can be replaced.

Always use a utensil when grabbing food, and don’t be afraid to ask for a new one if the one you’re reaching for seems particularly dirty.

Pile Your Plate With Balanced Items

You have to watch out for buffets because food can be contaminated, not heated through, or chilled properly, but it isn’t automatically the staff’s fault if you don’t feel good later. It’s easy to eat a bunch of heavy, greasy junk food at the buffet that will make you feel sick later on.

It’s normal to want to pig out at the buffet, but you’ll thank yourself later if you pile your plate with balanced items. For example, instead of filling your plate with fried food, make room for at least a few cooked vegetables.

Another good tip is to always leave white space on your plate between items. That way, you give yourself time to feel full before going up for another plate.

It’s true that the buffet isn’t the cleanest way to eat, but that doesn’t mean it’s guaranteed to make you sick either. Follow these tips and you can enjoy yourself without feeling ill later.