Kokua Line

By June Watanabe

Reusing plates at a buffet
violates state health rules

Question: During lunch at a restaurant in Kapahulu recently, my wife and I experienced a situation that reflects a lack of concern for others. A group of women repeatedly went back to the buffet area, carrying their used plates. I explained to one of them that "it is unsanitary, and usually not allowed, to carry one's already-used plate with food remains on it to the serving area. Bits of food can very easily spill over food which will eventually be consumed by others." Although the lady nodded, presumably to acknowledge that which I had clearly explained, she and her friends continued their practice. We had to cut short our lunch, explained to the waitress our concerns and left, dismayed at the practice of, hopefully, a few who show neither understanding of, nor concern for, sanitation in a restaurant setting. They might as well have surrounded the serving trays and sampled the foods repeatedly with their contaminated utensils! Are there rules and regulations -- never mind etiquette -- that apply to such a situation?

Answer: You should have pointed out the situation to the manager, who then should have explained the sanitation rules to the women.

The state Department of Health's sanitation branch chief, Brian Choy, points out that rules regarding sanitation in food establishments state: "Soiled tableware shall not be reused by self-service consumers returning to the service area for additional food. Beverage cups and glasses may be exempted from this requirement if the refilling process is contamination-free."

The concern is just as you described it, Choy said.

Of the beverage situation, an example would be if refills are from drink dispensers in which the overflow spills into a drain, he said. However, if refills are from "an old-fashioned punchbowl, we wouldn't allow that," he said.

It is the responsibility of each restaurant to make sure the sanitation standards are followed. Complaints can be directed to Choy's office, 586-8000.

Q: We would like to contact WRAD -- Waveriders Against Drugs. Can you provide us with an address and/or a contact phone number?

A: Mike Young, founder of the group of pro surfers dedicated to warning youngsters about the dangers of drugs, can be contacted on Kauai at 808-337-2227 or via e-mail at

Young said the organization is still active in the schools, and in the past six years has passed along an anti-drug message to 83,000 students. In 2000 he won the "Community Servant of the Year/Schools" Ola Pono Award, sponsored by HMSA, KHON-2, the Department of Education and state Attorney General's Office.

Young said WRAD also is active in Orange County and San Diego County in Southern California.

He is working on a new public service announcement and has updated a 19-minute video, "A Natural High," to include skateboarding and snowboarding segments as well.

Proceeds from an "Aloha Collection" CD, which features some of his tunes as well as donated cuts by various music companies and artists, "go to continue WRAD's work in the schools," Young said. He is searching for a new distributor.

"Life is full of challenges, and though it's hard to keep a good work going in a world that doesn't seem appreciative of nonprofit organizations," he said, "I'm doing my very best to keep WRAD alive. We're still grass-roots after almost 14 years, but I think I prefer it that way."

Got a question or complaint?
Call 529-4773, fax 529-4750, or write to Kokua Line,
Honolulu Star-Bulletin, 500 Ala Moana Blvd., No. 7-210,
Honolulu 96813. As many as possible will be answered.
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