Monday, August 13, 2007

Questionable Hygiene Standards

State media reports that the China Cuisine Association is calling for restaurant owners and diners to abandon the use of disposable chopsticks to save trees and help create a green Olympics next year.

Apparently China produces some 45 billion pairs of wooden chopsticks every year, using up 25 million trees.

Many restaurateurs and their customers prefer using disposable chopsticks because it's more hygienic.

But on my recent trip to Ba Shang with my colleagues, their eating habits showed me otherwise.

While we shared dishes spinning on the lazy Susan, they didn't take a portion of food from the plate and then put it in their own bowl. Instead they picked a piece from the dish with their chopsticks, put it in their mouths and then picked another piece before moving onto the next plate. Sometimes they would try to pick up some food, touch it, but then pick up another bit of food instead. It was like the equivalent of double dipping.

They obviously haven't learned from the 2003 SARS crisis about cleanliness -- that germs can spread through saliva, and that comes from their chopsticks.

So while the Chinese would rather use disposable chopsticks, they really aren't dining in the most hygienic way.

Don't even get me started on not washing their hands after using the bathroom!

And I'm not talking about uneducated peasants. I'm referring to young, university educated people who don't think what they're doing is questionable.

Trying to change the culture of cleanliness won't happen in the short term, which either means an epidemic will spread very quickly in China, or the people will be exposed to every known bacteria that they will be immune to almost anything.


IheartNY said...

The next race of superhumans! First we took over the top spots in California's U of C system, and now, we're immune to superbugs!

ks said...

years ago while travelling in guangzhou, i saw a bunch of university students using a big bowl and spoon to have their lunch. it is efficient and clean. hu yaobang, a more progressive leader suggested we should use the fork to eat. his idea was quickly shot down and denounced as unpatriotic. the chinese chop stick is very veratile simple and economical. but the chinese way of eating from a communal big bowl or plate is not very sanitary thus so many water borne infections and parasitic infestation. the solution probably may be a combination of a fork, spoon and knife. such a design is not easy. a few years ago at the powerhouse museum in sydney australia i saw such a model. may be the chinese should look into this . also public education of hygiene is in order. 'chinese food western way' may be the answer.