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unhygienic sandwich preparation


It shocks many how many sandwich makers in Brussels handle money and then make a sandwich touching everything with bare unwashed hands. Is there somewhere we can report these places to? Thanks


It is considered perfectly normal practice here where there isn't the same slavish attitude to "absolute cleanliness" as there seems to be these days in, say, the UK.

Indeed, the attitude seems to be that constant exposure to minor infection risks is good for your immune system - and you may have noticed how less likely Belgians, and particularly Wallons, are to suffer from allergic reactions to this, that and almost everything else.

Mar 16, 2016 15:25

This shocked me 11 years ago, and it still goes on today.
I did notice some years ago- they introduce plastic gloves!
And so now they handle cash, sandwich, till, cash, sandwich- and NEVER change gloves!

Welcome to our fair country :-)

Mar 16, 2016 15:31

Or ice for your drink taken out of the ice bucket with fingers, just seconds after you noticed them picking their nose.

Mar 16, 2016 15:59
themissus Mar 16, 2016 16:41
Mark L-W

Don't ever visit one of the factories that make sandwiches for the supermarkets in the UK, they are not nearly as pleasant and hygenic as you would like to think, indeed most food production is not.

Mar 16, 2016 17:44

There is nowhere you can report this because it isn't illegal here, just as it isn't illegal in the UK or the US.

Mar 17, 2016 07:26

And how often have you gotten sick from eating a sandwich prepared here?
It's not healthy to grow up and live in an antiseptic bubble.

Mar 17, 2016 11:22

I got sick from a sandwich here. I sent the whole night thinking I was dying while not able to leave the toilet because the world was falling out of my bottom in a light grey sort of porridge consistency. And that is when I was not vomiting. I know it was the sandwich.
The idea that you should expose yourself to others crap (literally) in order to be healthy is bizarre. Just ONCE you will get sick from food poisoning and I will guarantee, absolutely, that you will never be so blasé about food hygiene ever again.

Mar 17, 2016 17:08

If you're going to complain about something, then maybe try something that really is a danger to public health like the fact that dogs crap all over the streets, or the appalling level of cleanliness of the toilets in almost every state school (particularly primary schools) I have visited in this country.

The probability of "catching" something from people not washing their hands when making your sandwiches is about the same as being hit by lightening. And while MIKEK1300GT above got food poisoning, it was probably the food itself, not the hands of the person preparing it.

Mar 18, 2016 09:22
John McKleavy

The question is appropriate and all the answers provided are…well, a joke.

The issue of the lack of hygiene in sandwich shops (as well as bars, pubs, etc. where employees deal with food or drinks) is a SERIOUS ONE in Belgium. The likelihood of getting sick (e.g., getting gastroenteritis, flu, or other more serious infections) is much higher than getting hit by a lightening! It is actually very frequent (and that is particularly relevant for CHILDREN), although it is not often easy to demonstrate the direct link between the consumption of certain food in a specific place and the fact of getting ill, e.g., getting a flu or gastroenteritis.

The lack of hygiene, though, represents a LEGAL INFRINGEMENT which can be punished by law. Belgium, as any other EU Member State, is subject to EU law which establishes strict rules on the safety of food and the hygiene required in the food supply chain. Belgian authorities have also introduced national laws (you can find a summary in French here:, as well as guidelines (see here:

The Belgian competent authority for monitoring and enforcing non-compliance with food hygiene rules is the FEDERAL AGENCY FOR THE SAFETY OF THE SUPPLY CHAIN. You can report non-compliance with hygiene rules by either submitting a formal complaint, or contacting the Agency by phone or email. The Agency’s COMPLAINT FORM and contact details are available here:

As a last point, the lack of hygiene damages the reputation of those companies who invest in it; so, feel free to submit negative feedback about a company’s lack of hygiene by submitting reviews, ideally accompanied by videos or pictures, on TRIPADVISOR, YELP, GOOGLE REVIEWS, or on social media such as FACEBOOK.

We (expats) are often amazed about how Belgian people can tolerate such clear infringements of law: let’s not be part of this, and let’s help Belgium become a better place by reporting those cases of lack of hygiene!

Mar 21, 2016 14:55