From fluffy pancakes and crispy bacon to fruits and omelets, the breakfast buffet offers an abundance of choices. As tempting as it may be, there are times when it’s probably best to avoid certain food items to ensure a healthy and enjoyable dining experience.

Overall, breakfast buffets make a great choice if you’re on the hunt for an economical meal or have specific dietary restrictions or preferences, as they allow you to handpick the items that perfectly match your requirements.

Breakfast buffet caution

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported that foodborne illnesses were responsible for sickness in approximately 48 million Americans. Within this number, it is estimated that around 128,000 cases required hospitalization, and tragically, 3,000 cases resulted in fatalities.

Breakfast buffets that lack proper maintenance and supervision may fall prey to stale and unappetizing food items. Dishes sitting out for too long lose their freshness and flavor, posing a risk to your taste buds and stomach. It’s best to opt for recently prepared items to savor the true essence of a breakfast buffet.

In breakfast buffet setups, hygiene can sometimes take a backseat. With numerous diners handling the serving utensils, there is a potential for the spread of germs and contaminants. Items like communal bread baskets and self-service stations may be susceptible to bacterial growth.

According to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), buffets should prioritize swapping food trays rather than refilling them with new food to prevent the spread of foodborne illnesses and ensure food safety. The duration for which an old batch of food has been sitting on the buffet is often uncertain. After two hours at room temperature, the risk of harmful microorganisms thriving on the food increases significantly. Refilling food trays creates a potential risk of cross-contamination between the fresh food and any remaining food on the tray.

When encountering a breakfast buffet, knowing which foods to skip is wise. Here’s a rundown of foods to avoid at breakfast buffets.

  • Eggs

    Many establishments opt for powdered eggs instead of fresh ones, as it’s a cost-effective way to prepare large quantities of scrambled eggs to cater to numerous guests at once. However, powdered eggs cannot compare to the taste, texture, and color of their fresh counterparts. Another concern lies in the fact that these eggs are pre-cooked, which means they might sit at unsafe temperatures for extended periods.

    According to the FDA, serving eggs immediately after cooking is crucial to prevent foodborne illnesses. Unfortunately, in a buffet setting, it’s challenging to determine how long the eggs have been sitting out.

    Scrambled eggs on plate isolated on white background. Top view, flat lay

    Nadezhda_Nesterova/ Getty Images

  • Fruit

    Unless you witnessed the fruit being freshly prepared in the kitchen, it’s nearly impossible to gauge how long that eye-catching fruit display has been sitting there. According to the FDA, when fruits are cut, their protective skins are breached, leaving the flesh vulnerable to the surrounding environment and any potential bacteria. This creates two primary reasons that heighten the risk of contamination. Firstly, cutting the fruit makes its water content and nutrients readily available to microorganisms. Secondly, without any heating process, disease-causing germs aren’t eliminated, further contributing to the potential hazards of consuming cut fruits from a buffet display.

    Bowl of healthy fresh fruit salad on wooden background. Top view.

    baibaz/ Getty Images

  • Waffles

    Woman Pouring the Batter in a Waffle Maker Machine

    nicoletaionescu/ Getty Images

    There’s a joy of pouring your own batter into a Belgian waffle maker, flipping it eagerly, and waiting for that gratifying green light before embellishing it with toppings. However, it’s best to exercise caution and avoid the waffle station. As per TikToker Brandi Augustus, a former hotel employee, the waffle batter served there is often old and sour. Instead of disposing of the old batter, new batter is mixed with it. It’s worth noting that not all places offering breakfast buffets adhere to this practice, but it’s wise to stay informed and make a decision based on the circumstances.

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