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What should I do if I suspect my food is being used by my hosts?

Hi, this is my first time as a guest at a homestay (I guess that counts as Airbnb) and I’m running into a bit of a situation. I have a feeling my host is taking my food for herself because many times that I’ve put leftovers in the fridge or left them for a while on the stove, they’ve disappeared by the next morning and I was told that they spoiled and had to be thrown out. This past week, I went to another country and when I returned, a full litre of milk that I had just bought the previous week and the bit of iced tea I had left were gone and she told me she had to throw the milk out because it had spoiled (I really didn’t want to hear her explanation for the iced tea). My question is, even if she’s telling the truth (which I highly doubt), how would she have known any of my stuff was spoiled unless she was examining it by smelling or tasting it? And, if she was, why? It’s not her food and therefore shouldn’t concern her. Her story just doesn’t add up and it’s happened at least four times already.

Now, to be fair, she does oftentimes offer me her own food (even though I’m not paying for meals) and I have helped myself to some of her stuff at times, however only minimal amounts and I would never take a whole litre of milk if I had my own two litre bottle in the fridge or eat/throw out a whole container of something and then claimed it was spoiled. If she wants to take some of my food, I guess I should be okay with it, but it seems dishonest to me that she would keep telling me my food is spoiling when I know for a fact that’s extremely unlikely. What should I do in this situation?

The way I see it one of two things could be going on here.

  1. Your host could be eating your food and be embarrassed to admit it.

  2. More likely in my view. Your host is cautious about food poisoning. By health department rules, food can only be left at temperatures between 40 degrees Fahrenheit and 140 degrees Fahrenheit for two to four hours. If you are leaving food on the stove, you are in fact risking food borne illness. Regarding the milk; if you leave it out on the counter for periods of time while you’re using it, it could very well have gone bad within a week. I admit to eating leftovers as much as a week later, but the Mayo Clinic recommends throwing out food after three or four days.

http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/nutrition-and-healthy-eating/expert-answers/food-safety/faq-20058500

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Whether the host is eating the food or disposing of it, it is still extremely rude to do so without First informing the guest – if you don’t eat or dispose of the XXX by tonight, then I am going to throw it away.

Your food is your food, and it’s your business if you want to drink sour milk and eat stale food. I would confront the host, tell them there is NO excuse for what they have been doing, and if they do not stop you will leave them a very negative review. That should get their attention.

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You are right, its quite impossible to know if milk is spoiled without opening a cartoon.
And she has no business throwing it . WHy would she? I have 2 guests in a ouse and i dont really know in what condition their food is. The only thing sometimes happens when they put their food on my shelf and i not knowing it theirs sometimes used it, like couple of tomatoes, water, and once i ate bluberries thinking it was mine.But that happened only because one guest always put his things on my shelf.
I would ask her to not throw anything away without your approval. Your shelf is your shelf

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Thanks for your reply… in regards to your second option, I would say possibly, but in this case, I was away for a week, so I couldn’t have left it out on the counter at all. In any event, I can leave milk out for quite long periods of time without it coming close to going bad so I don’t see how there could have been spoilage while it was in the fridge. Regarding food poisoning, it’s still my food, so if for some reason she’s concerned about me getting sick, she should be telling me to throw my food away myself, not doing it for me without my consent. And, again, we’re talking about the next morning, so unlikely it was already spoiled.

Okay. Now I am confused. You have left your milk out on the counter overnight?

Thanks very much for your reply… I sometimes feel like doing that, but I generally don’t have a problem with her and I kind of feel guilty about confronting her about it. Like I said, she’s been very helpful and accommodating in other ways and, as well, there is a fairly major language barrier (I’m staying in El Salvador where the language is Spanish) and I’m not nearly fluent enough to communicate in a way to get this across to her effectively. It’s not like I’m going to go bankrupt from the food loss and the rent is very cheap for what I’m getting, so perhaps I should just ignore it and take it as a fairly minor setback in an otherwise good situation?

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No, the milk was in the fridge the entire time and I only used a very small quantity before I left for my trip. The expiry date was still a few days away before I returned.

It does sound like a cultural difference, or she is hungry, sees your food, and helps herself. Without a common language, it might be hard to discern what is going on. I would tend towards “minor setback” since so far, it is not affecting your budget too badly. I assume you have tried to utilize GoogleTranslate or some such app?

Yeah, but honestly, I don’t really communicate that much with her in either language unless she talks to me first… I’m just generally not that talkative and pretty reserved. It’s not so much the food loss as it is the dishonesty if she is using my food for herself and claiming it’s spoiled. It’s more the feeling of not being able to trust her that bothers me. I wish she would at least ask me first before either consuming or disposing.

I agree, but it’s still difficult for me to confront her about it. I’m thinking of maybe just ignoring and accepting it or asking some people who know her if they have any ideas.

No need to confront. Just ask the host if it’s OK if you can have your own shelf/box for your own food, to save confusion/mixing up your food/whatever excuse you find least confronting.
It sounds like she could be very hygiene or food safe aware so I would recommend you clean up all your food leftovers/put milk back in the fridge immediately. Perhaps buy some storage containers yourself-with your name on it!-, she may be less likely to go sniffing in those!
(She shouldn’t be touching your stuff anyway, but at least make it less comfortable for her to access your food)

Sure, but the shelf/dry foods aren’t really the issue, just the fridge, and there’s no way I can get myself a private fridge lol. She obviously knows which items are mine, as she tells me that she intentionally threw my stuff out. But yeah, maybe my own containers could be somewhat of a solution.

Are all the posters saying that the host shouldn’t be touching the guest’s food aware that the original poster said that he uses the host’s food?

I do think that it’s okay for hosts to throw away spoiled food as it stinks up the refrigerator. Also, I don’t know why anyone would leave “a bit of iced tea” in the refrigerator when they were leaving for a week. Opened drinks in the refrigerator are almost certain to be spilled.

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yeah, I meant a shelf of the fridge to be yours.
I get that she did it on purpose, that’s why I think you need to be a bit up front with her and say something like “I got myself these containers to keep my own food in. I’m sure you were just being helpful but please don’t throw out anything that is in these containers” all said sweetly with a big smile :slight_smile:

It’s not so much the food being used as her being dishonest about it that bothers me… if she were to tell me truthfully what she was doing, I wouldn’t be as concerned. She regularly offers me food so I don’t really feel like I’m sneaking around behind her back and stealing. And spoiled food that is in an airtight container definitely does not stink up the fridge because it’s tightly sealed and contained… if you choose to believe that the food spoiled after just one to three days, that is. As for the iced tea, I left a little bit so I could have when I got back. It certainly does not spill when it’s tightly closed, regardless of whether it’s been open. I haven’t seen a single bottle of anything spill in my fridge in my entire life when it was properly closed.

yes, but she’s offered him the food, whereas she’s thowing out his food without asking. He might like to reconsider this tho: [quote=“MonCalamari, post:1, topic:6909”]
nd I have helped myself to some of her stuff at times,
[/quote]

Definately, clearly off smelly food should be thrown out. Tho it’s up to him whether he eats/drinks out of date stuff that isn’t off or smelly (companys love to put short expiry dates on stuff so that consumers throw away perfectly edible food so we run out and buy more of their product!)

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Out of curiosity, this isn’t an airbnb? You are staying with host family for an educational trip or what? I’m just trying to figure out the situation where someone thinks it’s okay to dispose of someone else’s food. I’d be annoyed if a family member did it, much less my host. As for getting her to stop doing it, I think your idea of asking someone else who knows her is a good idea. It’s an odd thing to lie about.

Yeah, it’s a host family for an internship at a university in San Salvador. I’m planning on asking some people if they think what’s happening makes sense.

I feel the tiniest bit better knowing it’s not an airbnb host. I’ve heard stories of host families (for high school exchange students) taking advantage of their guests. I hope that’s not what is happening here.

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