FDA rules in cafe?

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Kramerica

Service Attendant
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Nov 26, 2007
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New Berlin, WI
I'm on the Lake Shore Limited now. [448 (18)] The cafe attendant just made an announcement with lots of restrictions. I question two things:

- FDA rules state that no personal food or drink can be brought into the cafe.

- The cafe lounge is only for use of passengers who buy something in the cafe.

Are either of these things true, or just made up rules by this crew? I had been planning on spending part of the day playing games with my family in the lounge.
 

Just-Thinking-51

Very bored and cranky pundit
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Grey area. Very limited space if the lounge is half seat, half lounge. With the conductor taken up a table, or two. Excessive inventory taken up another table. Not much space for customers.

As for reserving the few tables for paying guests, they might enforce it. So few tables easy to see who staying there.

Not going to be able to stay there if the crew decides to enforce there rule.
 

Kramerica

Service Attendant
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Nov 26, 2007
Messages
146
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New Berlin, WI
It is a full lounge car. Crew has two or three booths.

Are these real Amtrak rules or just made up rules by this crew? I want to know if I have standing to push back a little.
 

joelkfla

Engineer
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12 miles from Walt Disney World
I'm on the Lake Shore Limited now. [448 (18)] The cafe attendant just made an announcement with lots of restrictions. I question two things:

- FDA rules state that no personal food or drink can be brought into the cafe.

- The cafe lounge is only for use of passengers who buy something in the cafe.

Are either of these things true, or just made up rules by this crew? I had been planning on spending part of the day playing games with my family in the lounge.
I think there are FDA rules that personal food cannot be placed in a refrigerator used for storing food service, nor heated in a microwave (and probably convection oven) used to cook food for service, but I've never heard that they can't be eaten in the same room. I think the crew is taking the real rules and thinking the public will think their made-up rules will sound similar enough that no one will question them.
 

Amtrak25

Lead Service Attendant
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True, FDA prohibits personal food and beverage in the cafe car with a working attendant.

On a southbound Ethan Allen recently, the conductor announced with no advanced warning the cafe is closed an hour before arrival at NYPS - AND everyone must return to their coach seat right then and there. Previous to that, no one was to occupy the dinette car unless eating their purchased food. Kicking eveyone out after attendant closed down is not FDA. That sounds like another case of crews making up stupid rules where so-called managment couldn't control a elementary school auditorium.

On Empire trains that have no food service, people can occupy the dinette half of the car because there is no staffed food service to begin with.
 
Last edited:
Joined
Apr 5, 2011
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Location
Baltimore. MD
It's an Amtrak rule:


"You may bring your own food and beverages onboard for consumption at your seat or private Sleeping Car accommodations. However, you can only consume food and beverages purchased in Dining and Lounge Cars in those cars. Personal food and beverages are allowed in the upper level of Superliner Sightseer Lounges.

Federal health regulations prohibit Amtrak personnel from handling your food, heating it in our ovens, or storing it in our refrigerators."
 

Just-Thinking-51

Very bored and cranky pundit
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It is a full lounge car. Crew has two or three booths.

Are these real Amtrak rules or just made up rules by this crew? I want to know if I have standing to push back a little.
Yes, sorry forgot the LSL lost it’s business class.

Stand up to a crew will result in you get off the train before your schedule stop.

Pre-Covid during non-meals time I do not recall any announcements that prevented you from hang out there.
 
Joined
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San Francisco
I've seen land-based food establishments state that or similiar rules. This is often in connection with their outdoor seating.
Does that make it legit? Don't know but, such rules don't really bother me.
Agree. I don't think it's unreasonable to save seats/tables for customers who patronize the café car, especially when eating space is limited.
 
Joined
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NYC/Queens
Lake Shore is not an "Empire Service" train


. Personal Food and Beverage (Non-Amtrak)
a) May be consumed by customers in the following locations.
• Any Coach seat.
• Any Sleeping Car accommodation (both alcohol and non-alcohol beverages permitted).
• Upper level of Superliner Lounge Cars.
• Acela equipment.
• Empire Service equipment.
• Northeast Regional Cafe Cars.
• Auto Train lower level of Sleeper Lounge Car only when the service area is in the upper level.
• Auto Train upper level of Sleeper Lounge Car only when the service area is on the lower level.
• Sleeper Lounge Car (Sleeping Car Customers only) single level included.
b) All other Food Service Cars are intended for the consumption of only Amtrak provided
meals, snacks and beverages, with the following exceptions.
• When a customer makes a purchase from the long distance Lounge Car, only then may the customer
consume personal food and beverages in the lower level of a Superliner Lounge Car.
• Customers are prohibited from consuming personal food and beverage items in all single level Long
Distance Lounge and all Dining Cars.
c) Amtrak is prohibited from providing any refrigeration, thawing, heating, cooking, or storage
of any food or beverage items brought on board by customers or employees.
 

joelkfla

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Personal Food and Beverage (Non-Amtrak)
a) May be consumed by customers in the following locations.
• Acela equipment.
• Empire Service equipment.
• Northeast Regional Cafe Cars.
• Sleeper Lounge Car (Sleeping Car Customers only) single level included.
• When a customer makes a purchase from the long distance Lounge Car, only then may the customer
consume personal food and beverages in the lower level of a Superliner Lounge Car.

Blows away the claim that it's an FDA rule.
 
Joined
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Messages
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Location
Baltimore. MD
Lake Shore is not an "Empire Service" train


. Personal Food and Beverage (Non-Amtrak)
a) May be consumed by customers in the following locations.
• Any Coach seat.
• Any Sleeping Car accommodation (both alcohol and non-alcohol beverages permitted).
• Upper level of Superliner Lounge Cars.
• Acela equipment.
• Empire Service equipment.
• Northeast Regional Cafe Cars.
• Auto Train lower level of Sleeper Lounge Car only when the service area is in the upper level.
• Auto Train upper level of Sleeper Lounge Car only when the service area is on the lower level.
• Sleeper Lounge Car (Sleeping Car Customers only) single level included.
b) All other Food Service Cars are intended for the consumption of only Amtrak provided
meals, snacks and beverages, with the following exceptions.
• When a customer makes a purchase from the long distance Lounge Car, only then may the customer
consume personal food and beverages in the lower level of a Superliner Lounge Car.
• Customers are prohibited from consuming personal food and beverage items in all single level Long
Distance Lounge and all Dining Cars.
c) Amtrak is prohibited from providing any refrigeration, thawing, heating, cooking, or storage
of any food or beverage items brought on board by customers or employees.
I just quoted the official Amtrak policy as stated on their web page that you can't eat non-Amtrak-provided food in the cafe cars.

See post #7
 

crescent-zephyr

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Personally I’ve thought it was rude to bring food into a food establishment and camp out at a table that was for customer use. sort of an unwritten rule for me.
It’s a very inconsistent Amtrak rule / expectation. It’s perfectly fine to take your own food to a table in the lounge of the coast starlight, but not the silver meteor.

It’s allowed on the northeast regional but not on other corridor type trains.

As usual with Amtrak it’s the inconsistency that’s the most annoying.
 
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It’s a very inconsistent Amtrak rule / expectation. It’s perfectly fine to take your own food to a table in the lounge of the coast starlight, but not the silver meteor.

It’s allowed on the northeast regional but not on other corridor type trains.

As usual with Amtrak it’s the inconsistency that’s the most annoying.
The rules are very consistent. You can eat your own food at your seat or room or in the upper level of the sightseer lounge, if there is one on your train. In all other places, diners/cafe cars, etc, you have to eat Amtrak food.

It's the enforcement of these rules that's inconsistent, and that's understandable, too. The on-board staff and conductors have many other things to do besides checking on what the people in the cafe cars are eating. This is especially true if the train is busy. Thus, it's possible that one can get away with eating your own food in the cafe car, but the traveler should be prepared to be told by staff that it's not allowed, and, in this case, the staff are totally in the right.
 
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I just quoted the official Amtrak policy as stated on their web page that you can't eat non-Amtrak-provided food in the cafe cars.

See post #7
I understand. I was just trying to head off all of the "what abouts" so I pulled the section from The Amtrak Service Standards Manual. The web page and the manual should align, but sometimes don't.
 

zephyr17

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Washington State
1. No heating personal food is an FDA rule.
2. No personal food in cafe is an official Amtrak policy per the service standards manual, but not an FDA rule.
3. No use of tables by passengers not consuming cafe food is neither and made up by the attendant. Perhaps if the crew wouldn't reserve multiple tables for themselves the passengers could use them.
 

crescent-zephyr

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The rules are very consistent. You can eat your own food at your seat or room or in the upper level of the sightseer lounge, if there is one on your train. In all other places, diners/cafe cars, etc, you have to eat Amtrak food.
The rules shouldn’t vary from LD train to LD train. The type of equipment would not be obvious to a general customer. My opinion of course.
 

zephyr17

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The rules shouldn’t vary from LD train to LD train. The type of equipment would not be obvious to a general customer. My opinion of course.
There really isn't a variance. Outside food consumption in the cafe is not allowed. On Sightseer lounges, the cafe is considered to be only the downstairs. The upstairs is a lounge/viewing/socializing area, not part of the cafe.

The two table areas are very distinct, not close to each and not visible from each other. The car layout makes the distinction pretty intuitive for almost anyone, in addition to the announcements that downstairs seating is reserved for cafe customers.
 

crescent-zephyr

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There really isn't a variance. Outside food consumption in the cafe is not allowed. On Sightseer lounges, the cafe is considered to be only the downstairs. The upstairs is a lounge/viewing/socializing area, not part of the cafe.

The two table areas are very distinct, not close to each and not visible from each other. The car layout makes the distinction pretty intuitive for almost anyone, in addition to the announcements that downstairs seating is reserved for cafe customers.

The staircase makes it pretty easy to figure out a dividing line,
Both times I’ve ridden the starlight this month the downstairs was not open for passengers use making “the cafe tables” the tables upstairs.

Also… the cafes on the regionals allow personal food.
 

zephyr17

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Both times I’ve ridden the starlight this month the downstairs was not open for passengers use making “the cafe tables” the tables upstairs.

Also… the cafes on the regionals allow personal food.
The blocking off downstairs was clearly yet another YMMV action by the attendant. I saw that myself on the Starlight on 8/6 and was surprised. It was the first time I've ever seen that done when the cafe was staffed in 40 years of regularly riding Superliners.

Personal food on the NE Regionals is specified in the manual. To be consistent, that should be changed to be forbidden as well. How is a passenger to know that food is allowed on a Regional when it is not on Empire Service and the cars are identical. No stairs there, as PVD pointed out.
 
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zephyr17

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Your post said LD trains shouldn't vary, don't disagree. And generally they don't. Where were they selling the cafe food on those Starlight runs?
When I rode the Starlight on 8/6, the LSA was at the downstairs cafe counter as usual, but the seating area was barricaded by placement of those big brown paper trash bags.

In retrospect, I probably should have notified Customer Relations, but I have grown so accustomed to OBS staff just doing their own thing and making up their own rules, it didn't phase me at the time. We were going to take our purchases back to our seats anyway.
 
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