The Breakfast Buffet Red Flag That Should Send You Running

person grabbing tomato for breakfast buffet plate
person grabbing tomato for breakfast buffet plate - Milanexpo/Getty Images

Breakfast buffets can offer seemingly endless options for breakfast lovers, whether you're waking up at your all-inclusive vacation at a fancy resort or staying at an airport hotel to catch your flight. Breakfast buffets can fill you up quickly on non-perishable foods like bread, pastries, cereal, and potatoes. But alongside these foods can be fresher or more protein-filled offerings like fruit, eggs, or classic breakfast meats.

While this dazzling array of options is tempting to pile onto your plate at an unlimited buffet, it's best to pause before indulging and look out for one of the major red flags at a breakfast buffet. It's not about the kind of food served at the buffet but how it is served. If hot foods and cold or raw foods are displayed next to each other, this could cause a temperature-control and cross-contamination issue that can create a breeding ground for bacteria, putting you at risk of food-borne illnesses.

Read more: 11 Things You Didn't Know You Should Be Doing With Bacon

Hot And Cold Breakfast Buffet Foods Should Be Displayed Separately

family at breakfast buffet
family at breakfast buffet - Drazen Zigic/Shutterstock

One of the general food safety rules you need to know for your home kitchen is the same for all breakfast buffets and restaurants to follow: Keep all foods stored at their proper temperature. According to the Food and Drug Administration, cold foods should be kept at 40 degrees Fahrenheit or colder, while hot foods need to be kept at an internal temperature of 140 degrees Fahrenheit or warmer. These proper temperature controls will inhibit the growth of harmful microorganisms.

And if there are any raw foods on display, such as smoked salmon for a bagel sandwich bar, there is a risk of bacteria growth if they become too warm. So, an appetizing platter of any kind of raw food should ideally be far away from the hot trays of potatoes and scrambled eggs, or else it won't be so appetizing anymore. Conversely, already-cooked foods are also at risk if not kept at the proper temperature. If hot foods are left to cool down next to chilled foods, it could reintroduce bacteria into your meal.

More Breakfast Buffet Red Flags To Look Out For

diners at buffet with hot foods
diners at buffet with hot foods - IT-stock/Shutterstock

Now that you're aware of display dangers at breakfast buffets, there are a few other red flags you should keep an eye out for. The FDA advises that in general, hot or cold foods shouldn't be left out at room temperature for more than two hours, as it's one of the more dangerous food safety mistakes. So if you notice the breakfast buffet has been open for a few hours but there are no hot plates keeping the hot food warm or no ice trays or refrigeration to keep the cold foods cold, you might be in trouble. This is a surefire red flag that these foods haven't been kept at safe temperatures.

Additionally, if you see workers dropping new food onto the same used trays or hot plates that guests were serving themselves from, you're also possibly in danger of cross-contamination. New food shouldn't be added to a tray of food already in use. In this case, it's best to stick to the bread and cereal or skip the buffet altogether. Keep an eye out for these red flags at your next breakfast buffet. Keep cold and hot foods separate, and you can safely enjoy your all-you-can-eat breakfast.

Read the original article on The Daily Meal