Those free bread baskets in restaurants have a dirty little secret

Sometimes the best part about going out to eat is chowing down on the free bread they give you before your meal comes. That is, until your food arrives, and you already feel full. But saving room to enjoy the meal you actually ordered isn’t the only reason you’re going to want to ignore the free bread baskets at restaurants, they’re also pretty unsanitary.

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If you’re smart and stay away from the bread baskets to avoid the extra calories, you’ve probably always wondered what happens to the bread that no one eats. Well, sometimes it gets taken back to the kitchen and then re-served to another table. A survey on Reddit asked restaurant employees what items they would never eat from their restaurant. A number of servers revealed that uneaten bread is put back in the bread warmer and served to the next unfortunate customer. Here are some other foods that chefs would never order.

Katie Heil, a certified food safety professional, says that re-serving complimentary bread is a problem in restaurants. “The FDA food code forbids restaurants from re-serving any uneaten, unpackaged foods,” says Heil. “The reason is simple: there’s no guarantee that the food hasn’t become contaminated since it was first served.”

On the most recent list of food violations issued by the FDA, the third most common violation was insufficient sanitation monitoring. Heil says that re-serving complimentary bread can fall into this category.

One of the subcategories of “sanitation monitoring” is, “Protection of food, food packaging material, and food contact surfaces from adulteration.” Serving bread that has already been given to customers fits that violation.

So, the next time you go out to eat, steer clear of the free bread baskets. The upside of not filling up on bread is that you might have room for dessert after your meal. Also, before you pick the restaurant you’re going to eat at, know about these red flags that you’re about to eat at a bad restaurant.

The post Those Free Bread Baskets in Restaurants Have a Dirty Little Secret appeared first on Reader’s Digest.

10 PHOTOSThe most overpriced foods at restaurantsSee GalleryThe most overpriced foods at restaurants

Omelet — 566%

Plate IQ breaks down a Denver omelet made with ham, cheese, onions, and peppers and finds that the raw ingredients cost just $1.35, according to an ingredient cost analysis from Plate IQ. None of the items cost more than 50 cents, yet you’re likely paying about $9 for your breakfast, meaning you pay 566 percent more. The restaurant will likely charge $1 less for a vegetarian option made with spinach, mushrooms, and Brie cheese, bringing the markup down to 471 percent. Not that every supermarket item is cheap—don’t miss these 14 grocery store items that are grossly overpriced.


Cheese pizza — 580%

No ingredients in pizza crust cost more than 15 cents per pizza. The toppings add up a bit more, but a Margherita pizza would still cost the restaurant about $1.77, even though you’re shelling out closer to $12. Order a supreme pizza with all the works and the extra cost to fall on you could equate to a 636 percent markup.


Pizza toppings — 636%

If your pizzeria charges a few bucks for meat or a couple dollars for veggies, that’s an extra 525 percent markup on each topping. Get all the works on a supreme pizza, and you could be looking at paying an extra 636 percent.


Cheese — 417%

We get it—a hamburger won’t always do the trick when you’re craving a cheeseburger. But tacking $1.50 onto your check for a 29-cent slice of cheese is practically thievery. Don’t miss these other 57 secrets your restaurant server isn’t telling you.


Guacamole — 285%

Yes, you know guac is extra—but did you realize just how much more? Making guacamole from scratch would end up costing 52 cents per serving. With a scoop of guacamole costing up to $2 at burrito joints, though, you’re getting served a 285 percent markup.


Pasta — 809%

A serving of dry pasta only costs about 25 cents, and even with a homemade sauce, each serving will only cost about $1.43. Unless a restaurant is going through the labor of making its pasta from scratch, a $13 pasta dish is marked up more than 800 percent.


Coffee — 825%

Using the brewing instructions from Starbucks ground coffee, you’ll end up paying about 20 cents per serving. Buy a tall brewed coffee from the store, and you’re paying 825 percent more than you would by making your own. To make the most of your cafe coffee, learn how to get free refills every time you go to Starbucks.


Soup — 1,500%

Homemade chicken noodle soup only costs a restaurant about 30 cents to make, though a big bowl can cost $4.95, according to Forbes, making it one of the most overpriced things on a menu. If you’re concerned about “wasting” money on something you can make yourself, opt for thick soups like gumbo or chowder, which are more expensive to make but the same price for the customer, Forbes recommends. Just learn why you should never order these certain fish at restaurants—and what to get instead.


Potatoes — 471%

A pound of potatoes costs about 70 cents, meaning an individual spud is worth about 35 cents. On a menu, though, you’ll end up paying $2 to get one as a side, meaning you’re paying 471 percent more than you would baking your own white potato. Don’t miss these other foods that chefs never order at restaurants.


Wine — 167%

A bottle priced at $15 at a wine shop might only cost the restaurant $10 on wholesale, but they’ll charge you $25 to $30. (That’s particularly overpriced considering the best wine in the world costs just $10 retail.) Plus, paying $8 a glass—even with their bigger-than-normal pours—means you’re paying more than twice as much as you would at a BYOB restaurant. Oddly enough, you’ll often end up being less overcharged (though still, of course, paying more) for the most expensive bottles on the menu, because the biggest markups are on the cheapest bottles, according to Wine Enthusiast.


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