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Redditor Called Out After Reporting A Child For Licking The Condiment Dispensers At Costco

child eating ketchup
Copyright Morten Falch Sortland/Getty Images

Food courts and restaurants have certain health codes they need to maintain. But those codes are only enforceable with employees.

The members of the public who use the space to eat should maintain good food safety practices for the common good, but…

A customer who witnessed a health code violation turned to the “Am I The A**hole” (AITA) subReddit for feedback after being confronted for reporting it to food court staff.

Hefty-Quote8462 asked:

“AITA for reporting a child licking the sauce dispensers at Costco?”

The original poster (OP) explained:

“I went to Costco and bought a hotdog for myself and my husband. After waiting in line, I went to the sauce dispensers to get some mustard.”

“I saw a child licking her fingers, eating the sauce off them, and then proceeding to wipe them on the sauce dispensers (where the sauce comes out), repeating the same thing several times with all three sauce dispensers.”

“I decided not to confront the child or say anything to her family to avoid causing drama and embarrassing the child. Instead, I told the staff about the incident.

“I told staff to get them to clean the dispensers, that was the only reason.”

“A staff member came out and asked who did it, and I pointed at the child. Probably should’ve kept quiet, but, oh well.”

“The staff member confronted the family, which was a big group with two women and their children of various ages. The child who did this was about 6-7 years old.”

“The staff member pointed straight at me when the family asked who complained.”

“It all happened very quickly, the staff member came out from their work area, asked me who did this, I pointed to the child sitting with her family and pretty much the first thing I heard the family say was ‘who complained?’.”

“I didn’t even get a chance to sit down. I don’t think the family cared about anything else apart from who told the staff.”

“I saw her licking everything around her and even her mother asked her to stop. The family then confronted me, asking why I didn’t tell them directly and went straight to the staff.”

“Thinking about it now, the staff member shouldn’t have said it was me who complained. I was so stressed and felt like I needed to defend myself because the women just all started talking at the same time and going off at me.”

“I don’t think I was thinking properly at the time due to the stress of the situation. I’d definitely walk away from a confrontation next time.”

“I politely explained that my concern was food safety and that’s all, so I wasn’t looking to confront anyone. They said they didn’t believe it happened, said I must hate children, and spent the next few minutes talking over me and not letting me put a word in.”

“I reiterated that my concern was only food safety and that I don’t want other people’s saliva in my sauces. The staff member then told them they could easily check the CCTV, which seemed to calm the family down.”

“I heard the child’s mum say to the staff member that ‘children need to explore’—bear in mind earlier she said she didn’t believe it happened at all. If your children want to play and explore, use toys or other appropriate items.”

“I lost my appetite and won’t be using any public sauce dispensers again. Don’t think I’ll order anything from Costco food court again as well.”

“I’m still frustrated due to the whole incident. I hate arguing with people in public and wonder if I am in the wrong here.”


The OP summed up their situation.

“Maybe I should have just left it and not said anything? Maybe I shouldn’t have pointed to the child who did it?”

Redditors weighed in by declaring:

  • NTA – Not The A**hole
  • YTA – You’re The A**hole
  • NAH – No A**holes Here
  • ESH – Everyone Sucks Here

Redditors unanimously declared the OP was not the a**hole (NTA).

“NTA—the staff needed to know so that they could clean the dispensers. It’s also not your job to parent that child or to confront the parents, you did the right thing by going to staff instead.”

“The staff should’ve handled this very discreetly so that nobody knew who it was that reported their child, that would’ve saved a confrontation altogether.” ~ ScoobaChick28

“The staff member handled it terribly and I would complain about them to management.” ~ ConsistentCheesecake

“I would too. I wouldn’t do it in a retaliatory way, but just say ‘your staff needs more training in this area. I brought a legitimate concern to them. They should not turn around and tell the other party who complained’.”

“‘If you don’t have a policy or training in place to cover this you need to implement it. You certainly wouldn’t want an environment that encourages people to ignore obvious health and safety risks’.” ~ goraidders

“It’s also a safety risk to ‘tattle’ on who complained! I can’t imagine working in retail and ever thinking I should point out another guest—customers are crazy and unpredictable!” ~ EmphaticallyWrong

“‘Ma’am, we noticed your child has been licking the sauce dispensers. This is a health code issue, so we have to ask you to supervise your child and prevent this from happening in the future. Thank you’.”

“That’s all that needed to be said. If they started kicking up a fuss, they should have been asked to leave.” ~ Bratbabylestrange

“They also let the women harass OP. They should have been told to leave.” ~ HoboKellyArt

“NTA but that staff member is for sure. They handled this very poorly.”

“They should’ve cleaned the dispensers, then asked the parents to keep their child with them, away from the dispensers. They created the confrontation, when there didn’t need to be one at all.”

“It was simply a sanitary issue. And a bad parenting issue clearly.” ~ Agent_Scully9114

“NTA. If you confronted the family they would have been mad at you and grabbed the child and walked off.”

“You did the right thing, because I don’t want to eat some child’s germy saliva. That just makes me sick that families won’t watch their children and stop them from doing something that disgusting.”

“Thank you for speaking up!” ~ Less_Ordinary_8516

“NTA. When seeing a child behaving badly, your first thought shouldn’t be to locate the parents of the kid, but to reporting the problem so it can be fixed and sanitized ASAP.”

“I hate to say it, but the employees at the store are paid to deal with unruly customers.”

“You just made the women look bad in front of others, but this whole situation could’ve been avoided if they actually, I don’t know, watched and parented their kid.” ~ NotCreativeAtAll16

“If you didn’t tell them, were the parents planning to sterilize everything the child licked themselves to prevent other people from getting her germs? They needed to know for safety reasons. NTA.” ~ UrbanHuaraches

“NTA. Telling the staff means the sauce dispensers will be cleaned. Telling the parents means they’ll pretend it never happened.” ~ sfzen

“NTA—health and manners education is not available in that family. At least now the child remembers someone saying that is not the way to behave.”

“However, perhaps next time some people preach at you, remember that you always have the right to walk away from stupid speeches.”

“If they are not going to educate that kid, they most certainly should not be trying to educate you.” ~ yago1980

“NTA, but the Costco employee handled this very poorly. They should have been much more discreet, and when the family asked ‘who complained’ the employee should NOT have pointed you out.”

“What was the employee hoping to achieve by doing this? They apparently didn’t have enough common sense to realize that this was going to lead to a confrontation instead of keeping things calm.”

“The ONLY reason the family would ask ‘who complained’ is because they want to confront that person. Having that information serves no other purpose and doesn’t actually change the facts of the situation at all.”

“When the family asked who complained, the employee should have said something like ‘it doesn’t matter, it’s a health issue’ or ‘no one complained, we observed your child licking the dispensers’ or something like that.”

“It’s the employees job to deal with the family and clean the dispensers, not yours.” ~ anbaric26

“NTA, they should’ve been watching and disciplining their child. Not even my 3-year-old would do that and he licks the front door after he wipes banana on it. Still working on that.🤦🏻‍♀️

“It’s honestly terrible that you can’t even trust something public to be safe against contamination from irresponsible people. Thank you for stepping up and talking to the employee, if nothing else it might prompt better sanitization standards and more oversight for health and cleanliness.”

“I doubt the family will learn anything from this, but who knows. Being publicly shamed for bad behavior can do wonders sometimes.” ~ sexywallposter

“They were called out and didn’t want to take responsibility. ‘My or my child’s actions aren’t the problem, you noticing the actions are the problem. How dare you expect human decency from us?’.”

“Tell them directly? Why? So they can tell you they already told the child to stop? They should have told the child to stop AND taken the affected bottles to the staff to be sanitized because they know that’s gross. NTA.” ~ Raedriann

The OP was right to ask the staff to sanitize the dispensers, and the staff was right to confront the family to prevent the child from recontaminating them once they were cleaned.

But OP didn’t need to be called out by the staff or the family.

Written by Amelia Mavis Christnot

Amelia Christnot is an Oglala Lakota, Kanien'kehá:ka Haudenosaunee and Metís Navy brat who settled in the wilds of Northern Maine. A member of the Indigenous Journalists Association, she considers herself another proud Maineiac.