Wednesday 30 March 2011

Communal Chopsticks or Communal Germs?

A typical Hong Kong staff member at work in a typical Hong Kong-style cafe. Photo from David Wong

Call me queasy but I have reservations about associating hygiene together with food handlers and food places in Hong Kong. I appreciate that many bloggers, particularly foodies, enjoy raving about local-style and even street food (e.g. Nanamoose and Cha Xiu Bao). We've also seen the likes of celebrity chef Anthony Bourdain apparently being amazed and astounded by the local food, especially in cheap local haunts like Dai Pai Dongs and Cha Chaan Tengs (HK-style cafes).

I rarely visit such places, unless I have visitors in town who may want to sample all the sights, smells and tastes (as well as the resident microbes) of Hong Kong. The local milk tea remains, to my palate, undrinkable. And the thought of someone's grubby paws being in direct contact with any beverage or food dish reinforces my opinion of local eateries. I know, I'm easily queasily queasy!

Quick quote:
Get your stinking hands off [my drink], you damn dirty human!

However, it seems the recent collective history of infectious diseases, like SARS, and bird and swine flu, has been conveniently forgotten. It should be remembered that as a result of those public health scares, it was heartening to observe Hong Kong people starting to become more aware of hygiene issues with, for example, the use of communal chopsticks [公筷 or "community-use chopsticks"] being promoted, as well as washing hands and using facemasks. But now that the economy is picking up (one sure sign is rent prices increasing) and the fact that people have conveniently forgotten about the public health scares, life appears pretty much back to normal in Hong Kong!

Until ... that is ... the next public health scare.


  1. I think you're just protecting yourself from germs and viruses that may cause diseases in your body. I may not that queasy, but I'm always concern with my health too.

  2. Thanks Ketz. I just think people should be more aware about public health and personal hygiene.