8 Of The Most Germ Infested Things In A Restaurant
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that each year roughly 1 in 6 Americans (or 48 million people) gets sick, 128,000 are hospitalized, and 3,000 die, all of food-borne diseases. Germs is the common term which refers to bacteria and viruses. Germs can live on every surface and therefore it can also be moved from surface to surface such as from a farm worker through a production facility on down to kitchen staff, a counter-top, to your tabletop, utensil, food, then contact to a person’s hand and mouth. These same germs can cause colds, the flu, food-borne illnesses, and other infections.
According to Dr. Charles Gerba, Professor and leading expert in environmental micrbiology, Univ. of Arizona: “In fact, our studies have shown that many of the germs we find on public surfaces, and even in the home, absolutely will make children sick with no meaningful benefit of increased immunity.”
New York public health commissioner Peter DeLucia has gone undercover and exposed hidden health hazards for various organizations and television productions. He gives us an insiders tip to look for when assessing a restaurants cleanliness. He says, “The bathroom is a window to the rest of the facility. If the bathroom is stocked with paper towels, liquid soap, has hot and cold running water, and is nice and clean, it gives a good indication of the culture of what’s going on in the rest of that establishment. Definitely something to remember the next time you eat out!”
1) Restaurant Menus
Countless studies across the globe have shown that S. aureus (staph) and E. coli have been found on menus, thanks to their being passed from hand to hand. And it doesn’t stop there. Those are only two of the really bad strains found. There’s still upwards of 700 different strains of bacterium still to mention and where they come from.
Plastic menus are more germy than paper menus, especially if they get wet. Plastic can’t absorb water, so it sits there until it evaporates, which gives bacteria plenty of time to grow. Washing your hands after you touch a menu and before you eat anything, especially finger food or foods that are shared, can help prevent the spread of germs.
2) Touch Screens
Restaurant touch screens can make it faster and easier to order, but they also can make it faster and easier to pick up germs.
The better move is probably to deal with the line at the counter, drive thru or order it through an app. Many of the fast food restaurants that offer touch screen ordering also have smart phone apps that you can use to order on the go and pickup at the window or designated parking spot without much transaction except for a cordial thank you and goodbye. You can also take that a step further and use one of the many kitchen to door delivery apps such as Doordash, UberEats, Grubhub or Postmates.
Bacteria can thrive in water, so it makes sense that it can find a home in ice. A study of ice taken from bars and restaurants found several types of bacteria that can cause infections and in more than 60% of restaurants tested, the ice had more bacterium contamination than the toilet in that same restaurant. See the supporting article and data here / Penn State University / British Report / YouTube RT America Video
Interestingly, in another study (1) (2), scientists contaminated ice cubes with four types of bacteria and used them in drinks with vodka, whiskey, gin, peach tea, tonic water, and soda. According to the graph below, whiskey was the only drink that did not cultivate bacterial life. Is that good or bad?
4) Lemon Wedges
Lemon wedges look good and add flavor, but the porous rind when left unwashed from the farm to table can spread germs. According to tests, 70% of samples tested had organisms on them, either from the hands and machinery used to process them at the farm level all the way down to the server not using gloves or tongs.
Stomach acids can neutralize most of these leaving victims with temporary stomach trouble. Either way, if you can, it’s a good idea to observe if the servers using gloves or tongs to garnish drinks before you order yours or just ask for the garnish on the side.
5) Buffets & Salad Bars
Buffets and Salad Bars can be havens for bacteria. Food is kept at the perfect warm or cool temperatures for long periods of time while multiple numbers of people fondle and breath over the food. Bacteria love this type of environment. Serving utensils are shared without protection and those same people begin eating after touching those utensils and cross contaminated plates. There is a lot of hand to mouth contact going on. Hopefully nobody was sick or has an immune deficiency because they are all about to share each others bacteria from who knows where.
Sounds like a germaphobe’s nightmare but the cross-contamination is 100% true. However, our immune system does get stronger by this type of communal integration. It’s the flu’s and viruses that we are trying to avoid. Stay protected with Protekt Probiotic Products available in the online store!
6) Cafeteria Trays
Using a tray to carry your food to your seat doesn’t mean you’re germ-free. One study showed that cafeteria trays had an APC ( aerobic plate count ) — the level of germs in a product — of more than 200. That’s double the number of a tray that’s considered clean. It’s also higher than a theater bathroom, a gym mat or a public park swing. Gross!
Things like salt, pepper, ketchup, and mustard are meant to add flavor to your food, but they can also add germs. Items that are handled and passed, like condiment bottles and salt shakers, can be home to fecal bacteria like E. coli and fecal coliform.
If you have a probiotic spray or probiotic wipe, you may want to give those bottles and shakers a once-over before you use them.
8) Table Surfaces
The idea of germs being wiped out when your server wipes down your table before you sit down is good in theory. But it’s a theory that’s not quite true. Bacteria that can cause illness can be found on the very cloths used to clean tables in a food court and let us not get into what is living inside of that bucket full of murky water that he’s dipping that cloth into.