Why you should absolutely never touch the fried foods at the buffet

It's no secret fried food tastes good and when granted an all-access pass to golden, crunchy goodness at the buffet, it's hard to say no. It's not all finger-licking-good times, though. Let's shine an infrared warming light on some of the truths about fried food on the buffet line, shall we? 

First, let's be real. Crispy hushpuppies and crunchy fried shrimp can't possibly stay that way for long while they're piled in a big heap, sitting around for who knows how long. Second, one of the ways buffets make money is by using cheap, bulk ingredients. This includes the oil our beloved chicken tenders and egg rolls are fried in. Cheap oil equals even more saturated and trans fat. This brings us to perhaps the biggest thumbs down for fried food at the buffet: It's just not that great for us. Looking for "seared chicken or pulled pork to replace fried chicken" at the buffet is a better option according to Gabby Geerts, a registered dietitian (via The Healthy).

Buffets have some issues

In general, buffets have, well, issues. If you are at all concerned about germs, bacteria, and food safety, a buffet may not be the dining destination for you. Take that fried chicken you just stacked up on your plate, for instance. One of the challenges buffets face is keeping food at the optimal temperature: Cold food needs to remain below 40 degrees Fahrenheit, and hot food needs to hover above 140 degrees Fahrenheit. 

According to Food Safety News, the danger zone between 40 and 140 degrees is to be avoided, because in this range, bacteria that is present in small amounts has the potential to grow and multiply; quickly! When that happens, the safety of your already-unhealthy, oily fried chicken becomes compromised and puts you at risk for food-borne illness, which is a lot worse than just eating economy chicken. 

There is a time and a place for fried food

So, while bulk-quantity, buffet line fried food doesn't quite measure, we do still love a little golden-brown deliciousness. If you really want to crush that craving for something deep-fried, consider making fried food at home, where you can control the quality of ingredients. As Cooking Light points out, it's okay to eat fried food as part of an overall healthy diet. Tricks like making sure to use the proper oil at the proper temperature for frying are all you need. 

According to Healthy Dining Finder, the ideal temperature for frying is between 325 to 375 degrees — any cooler and more oil than necessary will be absorbed into the food. Cooking Light also recommends thoroughly draining fried food on paper towels after cooking, which prevents excess oil from soaking into the food. 

So, the next time you're tempted, skip the buffet and try a little DIY frying at home.