Have you ever wondered if Mexican restaurants reused the chips leftover from previous patrons? I actually never wondered that because I always gave the restaurants the benefit of the doubt.
Well, you might want to think twice before going to town on a restaurant's free chips and salsa. Not only will they make you so full you won't be able to eat your actual food, they also might be someone else's leftovers. Let that sit for a few minutes. Gross, right?
Su Casa, a Mexican restaurant in Michigan, has been accused of reusing uneaten chips and salsa and serving it to other customers. The mother of a 16-year-old busser at the restaurant, Kristie Bowie, revealed Su Casa's practices last week on Facebook. According to the post, the restaurant's management told Bowie's daughter that she should not "throw away the salsa, chips, etc. that come back that 'looked' like they haven't been touched." A policy that sure, prevents food waste, but promotes feelings of nausea.
Bowie's daughter confronted the restaurant's owner about the chip policy. When he admitted it was true, the teenager put in her notice. The owner then allegedly belittled the teenager telling her she had no common sense and "asked her if she is such a clean freak, why was her apron dirty?"
When confronted by the media about the allegations, the restaurant owner claimed he didn't know what he was doing was wrong. He said, "I thought it was okay." He said that he has not learned his lesson and will throw out all unused food moving forward. So, regardless of his actions moving forward, what about the patrons in the past? And the ones who got sick from this practice? Are there other restaurants doing this as well? It's disgusting!
The practice of reusing already touched food is potentially unsafe and a little disturbing for germaphobes around the world. A 2009 study found that double-dipping a chip into a dip like salsa or cheese can transfer bacteria from the dipper's mouth to the bowl. Based on these numbers, if restaurant salsa is reused within 120 minutes, patrons could be consuming strangers' bacteria. Even worse than that, re-serving food can also increase the risk of contracting viruses like hepatitis A, which is often transmitted though contaminated food. This means if an infected person touches food, like free chips or a bread basket, and the food is then re-served to another table, members at the second table could be at risk for contracting the virus.
What's the moral of the story here? Stick to non-communal foods that you don't suspect will be re-purposed. Maybe, you can load up on margaritas before you eat. This way, you won't even realize you're being contaminated. Oh, God! Does it even pay to eat out anymore? Like I asked before, how many other restaurants use this practice? Disgusting!