Why You Should Absolutely Never Touch The Bread At A Buffet

Certain buffet foods have had their share of critics in the past, while diners and health watchdogs alike have targeted the concept as a whole, pointing out unsanitary conditions, the glorification of gluttony they inspire, and the offloading of low-cost items disguised as good value for "all you can eat." An Esquire writer once labeled buffets "a fiasco" and "a wonderland of abundance and failure."

They're also inherently wasteful, with a 2017 study noting that diners consume just over half of the food displayed at hotel-based buffets, while the rest is tossed away (via Forbes). And when they're not wasteful, the result isn't so great, either: One Golden Corral employee confessed that she repeatedly "kneaded yesterday's uneaten dinner rolls into tomorrow's bread pudding" (via Vice).

Which brings us to the item that buffet-goers should forever banish from their plates: bread.

The potential pitfalls of buffet bread

We'll admit that bread is a tempting grab — and, oh, how many forms it can take on a single buffet line! Rolls, sandwiches, pastries, croissants, pizza ... yes, even that dreaded bread pudding. But most all-you-can-eat experts call it a no-brainer: "Bread is not your friend" at a buffet (via TableAgent).

Indeed, bountiful baskets filled with bread are there for a reason — it's a cheap but filling product that savvy operators not only display in mass heaps, but often place at the very start of the buffet line to entice diners off the bat (via Psychology Today). Spoon University adds that gluten-loaded and starchy items (like bread) are a waste of stomach space when you're better off tapping premium-priced food choices instead.

Then there are the health concerns that can crop up from a combo of poor practices by the establishment and other customers, like dropped utensils or even the transferring of bacteria from other foods like sushi when not enough serving utensils are stocked (via Canadian Institute of Food Safety).

Thanks to its finger-friendly format, some diners may pick up a roll and put it back on the table for the next unsuspecting guest, or buffet staff may make the setup even sketchier by inviting customers to slice their own bread with a flimsy napkin provided for "protection." But, however you slice it, don't bother — load up on bread at the bakery, not the buffet.