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by Abigail Van Buren

Buffet Needs A Refill Of Thoughtful Patrons

DEAR ABBY: I work in a buffet restaurant. I wish you would alert your readers to how waste increases the costs at restaurants like this one. And then people complain because the cost of the food goes up!

I have seen customers stick their fingers or used utensils into pans of food to taste it before serving themselves. And instead of the tongs we provide, they use their hands to help themselves to chicken, bread, etc.

The fact is that once anyone touches the food with his or her hands or eating utensil, the restaurant is required by the health code to dispose of the entire pan of food. This causes tremendous waste. Customers also overfill their plates only to throw half the food away. It makes me sad because so many people in this world are hungry.

I have seen children run around, making a mess of the dessert bar, and especially the ice cream and drink stations. Their parents seem to think it's "cute."

I wish you would remind your readers to use common sense when dining out and to please control their children. The parents should serve food to their little ones who don't know better. -- FRUSTRATED BUFFET WORKER, PUEBLO, COLO.

DEAR FRUSTRATED: Children can't practice behavior they haven't been taught, and parents who don't take the time to explain proper behavior to their little ones are shirking their responsibility.

As to adults who have so little understanding of hygiene -- or consideration for others -- that they put their hands or used utensils into food that is meant for others, well -- perhaps after being reminded that it raises the prices they have to pay, they'll think twice about it. But don't bet on it.

Read more in: Health & Safety