Social Question

jca's avatar

Will you or won't you eat food that has been eaten (with their utensils) by other people, and if you will, under what circumstances?

Asked by jca (36043points) August 1st, 2012

When dining, will you eat others’ food if they offer it to you? Will you eat someone’s leftovers if they offer it to you? Will you do this with everyone, or only your family members, or not at all?

Recently, I went to lunch with some former coworkers. I’ve had surgery that makes it impossible for me to eat a lot, and so I had a lot of my food left over. My dining companion asked if she could take my leftover lunch to give to her husband. I was happy to have the food not go to waste, but yet, I wouldn’t eat something that was leftover from someone else.

Then the other day, I got lunch sent in to my job. I ate about 8 bites and was done with it. I offered it to my coworker to see if he knows anybody that would want it. I explained to him that I ate out of it and he said “You mean you dug into it with your saliva’ed utensils?” I said yes. He brought it to someone who was happy to have it.

When I go out with my family, we will offer each other our food and not think twice about it. I would not ever do this with non-family members and I would never, ever eat someone’s leftovers, unless they didn’t put their “saliva’ed utensils” into it. How about you? What are your criteria for eating others’ food?

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60 Answers

ragingloli's avatar

Only if I know the person.

JLeslie's avatar

Only my husband. Only him, no one else, no way.

Brian1946's avatar

Only my wife and our niece.

wonderingwhy's avatar

Much the same. Family and close friends, short of their being sick, I don’t even think about it, load me up! Served food, rather than an individuals leftovers, sure. What’s left of the half eaten sandwich and coke from someone, who maybe I know know enough to say hi to in the elevator (or basically anyone not on the close friends & family list), find another taker.

That said I’ve met people who aren’t anywhere near as picky. I worked at an office for about a month where I always brought last nights leftovers as lunch. Once the guy next door got a whiff, it was a given he was pretty much interested in anything I didn’t finish. During my last week I purposely made something he’d commented positively on and brought him several helpings to take home, he really thought that was a great gesture.

zensky's avatar

Only the kids’.

JLeslie's avatar

@wonderingwhy So knowing them well is enough for you? Not for me. I would not trust that if I went to take a taste of someone’s meal that they would blurt out, “um wait, I feel a tingle on my lip and not sure if I might be getting an outbreak.” And, people are contangious with colds and flu before they know they a getting sick, they can’t warn you because they don’t know themseves. I just never understand people who don’t worry about transferring germs. I am not being critical, when I say I don’t understand, I don’t mean you are wrong, I mean I just can’t do it.

Pandora's avatar

My husband and kids.

zenvelo's avatar

Kids and my girlfriend. But not if it has been handled bare handed.

wonderingwhy's avatar

@JLeslie So knowing them well is enough for you? Pretty much, I trust them to warn me if they think they’re sick, and yeah with things like colds/flu it’s a risk but then in those cases I’m usually around them enough or close enough to them I’ll be catching it anyway. The list is pretty short however, basically four. (Heh, one of em’s actually been here every night this week and we’re expecting her again tonight. And, as I found out earlier when I was looking through the fridge for my lunch, she took my leftovers for her lunch; grumble, grumble, grumble) I definitely get where you’re coming from though. Up until the co-worker I mentioned above, I’d never actually met anyone so unhesitant to eat leftovers from someone who they basically didn’t know beyond “hi”. And it never ceases to amaze me how many people who clearly are sick with cold/flu, even when they don’t have to, go to the office, etc.

JLeslie's avatar

@wonderingwhy I have had people kiss me hello (on the cheek) and then tell me how they feel feverish. People shake my hand and then talk about how congested they are. I know at least a handful of people who insist they have allergies when it is a cold. I don’t trust most people to say anything.

Coloma's avatar

Depends. If it is something like an untouched sandwich or leftover fries yes. If it someones unfinished bowl of soup, no. lol

flutherother's avatar

Only with the closest family.

Kardamom's avatar

I will share stuff from my plate and from other’s plates if they are family members or close friends, but no one else.

I don’t think I could eat anyone else’s leftovers if they have been digging into it, the ick factor is just too big. When you’re tasting something off of someone else’s plate (in person, rather than after the fact), you can choose the spot you scoop from, one that’s been un-touched by saliva.

One of my best friends has no qualms about eating my already dug into leftovers, nor do her kids, which I’m glad for, because sometimes we’re out and about, but close to her house, so we’ll drop stuff off there. We’re usually too far away from my house, and I refuse to eat my own leftovers that have been left out in the open, or hot sun for any length of time. Lately I’ve been taking a cooler with blue ice everywhere I go, to avoid that problem.

Sometime’s I’ll cut something in half, before I dig into it, knowing full well that I’ll probably not be able to eat all of it. That solves the problem of the spittle covered leftovers. Just have to remember to do it before I dig in LOL.

I’m also one of those people who if I see someone double dip, I’m done with that dip!

LuckyGuy's avatar

If my tongue has been in their mouth I will eat their food.
That is not the only criteria but it is a sure bet.

Bill1939's avatar

If I kiss them on the mouth, I am willing to eat their food from their fork or spoon. But if I don’t know someone that well, the fact that their utensil touched their mouth and their food would dissuade me from eating it even with my own utensils. Though it is not the same thing as spitting on the food, it does not feel that far from it.

Rozziee's avatar

If i will kiss you on the mouth or put my tongue in your mouth, then i would eat your food….can’t get any germier than that.

rojo's avatar

Pretty much like everyone else. And, I have not been know to turn down a group share out of the same pan when wilderness camping either, most of the time with individual utensils but have shared a group spoon once. Hey, don’t judge me, I was hungry and it smelled soooo good.

OpryLeigh's avatar

I’ll often eat people’s leftovers and I don’t have to know them very well at all. I’m not dead yet so…

A good example would be, not long ago I went out with a friend and one of her friends that I went to school with but haven’t had much to do with since leaving school. He didn’t all of his meal so I ate the leftovers. I very rarely get colds so I don’t tend to even think twice about it.

Buttonstc's avatar

As @JLeslie. pointed out, people can be in the beginning and contagious stages of cols or flu before they even know they’re getting sick.

But, logically speaking, does that not also include family members as well. I mean, you cant know what you don’t know, right?

Or is it that you don’t mind catching. A cold from a family member as much as from an acquaintance?

Just curious.

ragingloli's avatar

Most primates, humans included, share food with their offspring, mouth to mouth, to strengthen the spawn’s immune system. I think it therefore stands to reason that if there are insufficient pathogens in mouthfuls of chewed food to cause a disease breakout in a toddler with an undeveloped immune system, that the amount of pathogens in food that contains only the saliva remnants of a spoon that was in the other person’s mouth will be insufficient to cause a disease breakout in a fully grown adult with a fully developed immune system.

wundayatta's avatar

I would where culturally appropriate. In Asia, families often eat from a communal bowl or pot. If I were visiting a family there, I would be prepared to eat communally.

YARNLADY's avatar

Family and friends, or acquaintances if the food is on the same plate, but not eaten from, such as fries or veges.

SuperMouse's avatar

Close family as in husband, kids and sisters. Once I had a friend put his half eaten burrito into a to go box I had my leftovers in and tell me to take it home and enjoy. I was so grossed out I threw the whole thing away. Hangs head in shame.

I do understand and appreciate that I am fortunate to consistently have enough to eat, if that wasn’t the case I understand that I would not have the luxury of being so picky.

Pied_Pfeffer's avatar

It doesn’t really matter who it is, as long as, a.) they ask first, b.) an untouched section is cut with a knife (I’ve never seen someone put a knife in their mouth), and c.) it comes from the opposite side that they have been chowing down on. If they cut off a section, I can retrieve it with my own fork. If it is something that doesn’t require cutting, I may dip into it with an unused utensil. Someone’s leftover meal doesn’t hold any appeal.

Dutchess_III's avatar

If I really wanted it, sure I would. Why not?

Sunny2's avatar

I’ve been out for dinner with a group where we passed dishes around and ate from the same plate, especially rich desserts. Never bothered me, but I’m from the generation who were admonished that you had to eat a peck of dirt before you die.

SuperMouse's avatar

@Sunny2 OMG, my girlfriends and I used to share rich desserts in exactly the manner you describe! I didn’t even think about that until I read your posts. We used to go out every couple of weeks and all share the same dessert with saliva covered utensils and I never thought anything of it. I wonder if sharing saliva doesn’t count when eating rich desserts! So I guess I must amend my answer to say husband, kids, sisters, and my group of mommy buddies back home!

Ponderer983's avatar

@Pied_Pfeffer I put knives in my mouth – rather often I might add. After i am done cutting my food, i tend to put the knife in my mouth and drag it out and clean the food off. Only at home, not in public, and so far, no cuts. Yeah I’m weird, and what?

Only family and close friends and those who I am kissing.

Brian1946's avatar


…I’m from the generation who were admonished that you had to eat a peck of dirt before you die.

Is that admonishment saying that picky eaters or those who don’t eat all the food on their plate, would eat up to 2 gallons (1 peck) of dirt if they were in danger of starving to death?

I think we’re from about the same generation, and the admonishment I heard was something like, “Clean your plate, because people in China are starving”.

Dutchess_III's avatar

Yeah…my folks used to say that, and one time my snarky, 14 year old sister snarled, “Well, send my food to China then!!!”

That was the end of that mantra! :)

tranquilsea's avatar

I’m not a germ-a-phobe. I’ll eat things given to me by anyone I know. AND I’ve eaten the odd thing offered to me by relative strangers at parties.

Dutchess_III's avatar

Yep. ^^^^ The human race would have died out LONG ago if we were THAT hyper sensitive to silly stuff.

sydsydrox's avatar

I would but I would wash it or wipe it off with a napkin first

Dutchess_III's avatar

What? You would wipe the food off?

Sunny2's avatar

@sydsydrox You wouldn’t have much luck wiping off gooey chocolate and thickened whipped cream. Get over it and use your spoon. . .or don’t eat any of the best dessert you’ll never taste.

Sunny2's avatar

@Brian1946 Yep. You’re one of us.

OpryLeigh's avatar

@SuperMouse I often share tubs of ice cream with people, sometimes eating from the same spoon!

Dutchess_III's avatar


Dutchess_III's avatar

@Buttonstc Nothing wrong with catching colds. There are about two hundred different types of cold viruses, but only about 20 that are really common. All of us get all 20 of the common ones, eventually, whether you eat off of someone elses fork or not. Once you’ve gotten one, you’re immune to that virus. That is why kids have so many more colds than older people. I haven’t had a cold in ten years.

I got sick with about three different strains of the flu before I was 17. Sick as hell, but that’s done, and I’m immune. I’ve been around people who have the flu. I tended my kids when they went down like dominoes from the 24 hour flu. I didn’t get sick. Not particularly worried about getting some other kind of flu, either.

All in all, my immune system is stronger and better than it would have been had I never gotten sick.

Anybody want the rest of my burrito?? :)

JLeslie's avatar

@Dutchess_III Well, there seems to be agreement now that the bacterias that cause Tooth cavaties are contagious, and that H. Pylori, the bacteria that causes stomach ulcers is likely contagious, and can be passed through kissing or sharing.

Makes one wonder if it is not only genes that leave us with similar conditions to family members, but actually a combination of genes and exposure because we live so closely with them.

jca's avatar

I was tested for H Pulori before I had weight loss surgery, and I don’t have it. I did hear that we shouldn’t let our children eat from the same utensils, because of the bacteria that cause tooth decay.

I have eaten food from the same forks as others, like I said, my family, mostly. I would share a dish at a table, and for some reason, if it’s dessert it doesn’t phase me at all. I wouldn’t eat a whole meal from someone else, like I said when my coworker took my leftovers for her hubby, that is something I wouldn’t eat if I were him, but to each his own.

You’re all going to think this is gross, I’m sure, but I have let my cats eat from the food I am eating from, like if they want a lick of my ice cream or something.

Sunny2's avatar

One can live life being totally cautious, mildly cautious, or fearless; and, in many situations. Germophobes must follow their fears in order to be comfortable. No big deal, really. Others of us have different comfort levels about different things. And we can’t all understand the difference in others who are not like us. So live and let live. We’ll all survive. . . .or not. . . . .at our own comfort levels. this is the pollyanna side of myself speaking

downtide's avatar

I’m with @Dutchess_III, and I’ll have that leftover burrito. I don’t understand the big deal. Yes I would eat anyone’s leftovers, and have done, and have never got sick from the saliva off anyone else’s fork. You get more germs than that from taking a coin in change at a store. Limiting your exposure to germs too much will weaken your immune system.

Dutchess_III's avatar

@JLeslie Well, that’s what floss, tooth brushing and dental check ups are for. I may be wrong, but just having bad oral hygiene leads to tooth decay….you eat meat, don’t get it out from between your teeth, it rots via bacteria.

JLeslie's avatar

@Dutchess_III It’s actually not quite that simple. Some people carry a lot of the cavity producing bacterias and it can infect you.

Dutchess_III's avatar

That’s why I brush and floss, whether I’m trading spit or not.

JLeslie's avatar

@Dutchess_III You aren’t getting it. Some people brush and floss and are still prone to cavaties. They might have certain bacterias in their mouth that are contributing to it. We also of course know that flouride helps protect our teeth against cavaties, besides brushing and flossing.

OpryLeigh's avatar

@jca When I was a kid I used to share ice cream with the dogs all the time!! Now, it only happens if they get a cheaky tongue swipe but I won’t be throwing my whole icecream away just because the dog has stolen a lick!!!

jca's avatar

@Leanne1986: When I was little I used to kiss the cats on the mouth and my mom would say “do you know what they do with their mouths? They lick their butts and kill birds!”

OpryLeigh's avatar

@jca Yep, had that same lecture from my mum!

Dutchess_III's avatar

But we’re still here, @jca and @Leanne1986!

Dutchess_III's avatar

Guys…every time I see a discussion like this, a cartoon pops into my head. Two panels. First one indicates that a couple is having hot, steamy, no holds-barred, wild sex. The second panel shows the couple all dressed up and out on a date. The guy offers the girl a sip of his drink to see if she likes it, and she shrieks, “OMG no!!! Not after you drank out of it!!!”

@NoBusyBody Why not? It ain’t gonna kill you.

Paradox25's avatar

No and no. I won’t even sip my own drink if I know that another person drank from the same container. There are exceptions though, but I would have to be extremely hungary or thirsty.

JLeslie's avatar

@Dutchess_III I would assume a couple on a date assumes there might be a kiss. Plus, back in high school boys used to try to share drinks with girls as like a faux kiss. It rings high school to me.

Dutchess_III's avatar

@JLeslie I wasn’t talking about HS. I was referring to grown men and women. Having sex. Not just kissing. Every person who has answered “OMG NO!!!” is a grown up who has had sex. Hot, steamy sex. I just don’t know how germ-a-phobes reconcile sex with….all of their other fears.

JLeslie's avatar

@Dutchess_III I realize you were not talking about high school.

A lot of people I know are pretty freaked about sex being germy. A lot of women I know have had to take an antibiotic or go through dealing with HPV. Some had a lot of sex partners, but many of them didn’t.

Dutchess_III's avatar

What does taking an antibiotic have to do with HPV?

JLeslie's avatar

@Dutchess_III Nothing. Antibiotics are for Chlamydia, Trich, and others.

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