More than 60% of people eat out at least once a week in the US! Of course, we all love eating out every now and then, but many of us fail to see the very nasty dark side of restaurants.
In fact, a large number of restaurants are far from being the cleanest places you can eat at. In other words, you can easily end up sick because of a nice dinner out.
Although not life-threatening, a restaurant can get you infected with awful germs through many different ways.
#1 – The Bathroom
This one is obvious, but you should know that you can actually judge the cleanliness level of a restaurant based on its bathroom state. The first thing you should do after entering the bathroom is to check if there’s a cleaning schedule posted on a door or wall. Also, use your nose; if the place smells dirty then it definitely is.
To wash your hands, use plenty of liquid soap and warm water, dry them with a paper towel, and use it to open the door before you throw it away. It’d be even better if you could use some hand sanitizer on your way to the table.
Remember that not everyone uses the bathroom to wash their hands, or worse, don’t even bother washing their hands after doing other things.
#2 – The Table
© Lorimer Workshop
Not touching the table is quite inevitable, I know. But it was found by microbiologists that the typical restaurant table includes enough germs and bacteria to cause illnesses, particularly among children, the elderly, and people with a weakened immunity.
Also, you may not want to ask the waiter/waitress to wipe down the table. According to studies, the rag used to clean restaurant tables is likely never washed properly, making your table extra gross. Place a napkin between your arms and the table to prevent contact and don’t you lay a finger on the tabletop.
#3 – The Buffet
© Circus Circus Las Vegas
Shockingly, that lovely buffet or salad bar is actually never clean. In fact, the food is rarely stored at the proper temperature and any leftovers from one container are simply added to another one, contaminating it too.
Moreover, it’s worth mentioning that the utensils (which are used by a countless number of individuals) are never replaced and have to wait until the end of the day to be washed.
The all-you-can-eat buffet has just stopped being so appetizing…
#4 – Menus
© To become
You can almost never go to a restaurant without touching the menu, which is why it’s one of the filthiest restaurant items. Just imagine how many hands touch the menus every day and how often they’re wiped down (never) or replaced (also never)! This is just disgusting.
You swear you’ve noticed the waiter/waitress wiping them down? Remember that they’re using that unwashed dirt-loaded rag we already discussed.
Researchers revealed that salmonella can survive for 72 hours, while E. coli survive for 24 hours on a plastic menu. Beware! If the menu is sticky or has particles of food on it, it means that it’s filled with germs and you’re better off not touching it.
Remember to wash your hands thoroughly and use a sanitizer after ordering.
#5 – Condiments
© Dusk Magazine
You should avoid touching containers of ketchup, mustard, pancake syrup, soy sauce, etc, and even the little pepper and salt shakers while at a restaurant! These tableside condiment containers are never washed or ever wiped off (which is probably good).
Your best bet is to use a napkin or antibacterial wipe to pick up the containers. No matter what you do, just do not touch them.
#6 – Trays
© eHow Brasil
Certain restaurants serve food on trays that you should never touch. Again, they’re either never washed or wiped down with that disgusting rag. Other restaurants choose to place paper placemats, which are eventually thrown out after each use but, at best, the trays are wiped down before being used again.
Make sure to use your hand sanitizer once at the table and avoid touching the tray at all costs. Also, don’t eat any food that came in direct contact with the tray.
#7 – Ice cubes in Your Drink
© Primer Magazine
If you love cold beverages, note that the ice makers at the restaurant, like all the other things on this list, are almost never cleaned out. These machines are contaminated each time an employee uses them, so you can imagine the number of germs that live and thrive in there.
Moreover, in most cases, these machines only get some good cleaning when they break down! Just skip the ice in your drinks. Your health will be grateful.
#8 – Citrus Slices in Your Drink
Sometimes, you’ll find slices of lime or lemon in your drink even without asking for it. Well, you may start asking them not to after reading this…
According to a 2007-study, about 70% of the tested lemon slices had microbial growth either on the flesh or rind of the citrus fruit.
The explanation is that the lemon is cut and handled by many employees before it reaches your drink. This exposes you to some very nasty germs. “No fruit slices, please!”