When eating from buffets or salad bars, consider washing your hands or using hand sanitizer after using tongs or serving spoons, if you will be touching the food, since the handles may be contaminated with bacteria or viruses from the hands of previous patrons.
For instance, in a study in the Journal of Food: Microbiology, Safety & Hygiene, researchers showed that E. coli bacteria easily spread from contaminated hands to metal salad tongs, and from the tongs to hands.
Of course, you should wash your hands before using shared serving utensils, especially if you have a cold or stomach bug, to help protect other people. Another option: Use a paper napkin to hold the tongs and spoons or to pick up dry food like bread.
It’s no wonder that infectious disease experts are loath to eat from buffets and salad bars.
Also see 6 Tips for Smart Handwashing.