10 Things You Shouldn’t Touch at All-You-Can-Eat Buffets

For some people, an all-you-can-eat buffet isn’t a meal, it’s a challenge. But filling plate after plate to get the most for your dollar could compromise your health. “That competitive mentality and going in overly hungry set you up for overeating and that awful feeling you get 20 minutes after you’re done,” says Lauri Wright, PhD, a spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and chairperson of the department of nutrition and dietetics at the University of North Florida.

Not only can all-you-can-eat buffets derail your diet, but they could also put you at higher risk for getting sick. Almost any food can put you at risk for food-borne illness if it hasn’t been handled correctly, notes Shelley Feist, executive director of the Partnership for Food Safety Education. And it’s tough to tell from eyeballing a buffet if the cream of mushroom soup or the sushi is being kept hot or cold enough.

“The zone between 40 and 140 degrees Fahrenheit is what we call the danger zone because at those temperatures, bacteria love to grow,” Feist says. To minimize your risk, here are some things to avoid next time you hit the buffet line. Find out 13 things restaurant health inspectors wish you knew.

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