Ask The Psychologist Issue #36: Potlucks and Buffet’s; their relationship to the Flu / Virus and Food Poisoning

In 2017 I wrote a #1 Best Seller that deals with “The Psychology of How We Choose to Eat, titled Unhealthy or Healthy EATING, it’s Finally up to You”. In this book, I discuss some food safety issues that I learned from taking formal initial and advanced food safety classes, required when you own a restaurant.The classes reinforced much of what I have been practicing and sharing with people for years. My most important message has been to be aware, that most people who get food poisoning and/or contract the flu, most often get it at buffets or potlucks. There is a saying that the American Philosopher, Josh Billings made famous years ago, “Common Sense is Instinct and Enough of it is Genius”. This saying also applies to food safety issues.

We all know that at a Buffet, many people share the same utensils and that these people are talking and breathing over the common food trays, when they are serving themselves. At a potluck, we have no food inspectors, as found inspecting restaurants, monitoring the kitchens of the various people preparing the food to be served. This is a double whammy since most potlucks are buffets.

Many times, especially over the holidays, becoming ill in many cases can be traced to food safety issues. Today I spoke with a health professional that contracted food poisoning from food at a restaurant. What I have always told my children is, “ Not to eat food in a restaurant that is not cooked”. This is exactly what the above-mentioned person did, which resulted in her becoming ill afterward. None of the others in her party became ill, since they did not have a similar meal to what she ordered.  

To avoid the pitfalls above, I recommend that all parties that provide food have a reputable restaurant deliver the food and have servers that dispense the food. All servers should be wearing masks and gloves and the food should have sneeze guards over it, if it is served in a buffet line. Hand sanitizers should be stationed at the beginning of the line. I provide other suggestions, in the above-mentioned book, on how to protect you in situations where food is served.

Since love / belonging / involvement with others are the strongest higher level psychological needs, especially around the holidays, one needs to take some safety precautions to be able to enjoy this time of the year, as well as throughout the year. 

Bart P. Billings,Ph.D.
COL SCNG-SC, Military Medical Directorate (Ret.)
Licensed Clinical Psychologist CA PSY 7656
Licensed Marriage, Family Therapist CA LMFT 4888
-Director/Founder International Military & Civilian Combat Stress Conference
-Initial Enlisted Ranks and Retired as Medical Service Corps Officer with a total of 34 years in US Army
-Recipient of the 2014 Human Rights Award from Citizens Commission on Human Rights International & The University Of Scranton “Frank O’Hara Award” in 2016. (“Invisible Scars” & “Unhealthy Eating …” Books Website) (Combat Stress Conference website)
—Cell 760 500-5040
—Ph  760 438-2788


INVISIBLE SCARS” is available at

Some Amazon 5 Star Recent Customer Reviews

– This Book Saved My Life.

– I am sure that this book will save lives.

– 25 pages into Invisible Scars, I knew that it was the second most important book I would ever read…after the Bible. — David T. Ossian, Asst. National Vice Commandant , Marine Corps League

– This book is life changing…everyone needs to read …. 


HEALTHY EATING” is available at

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