It found that pepper shakers have a disturbing average bacteria count of 11,600 - while menus have a whopping average bacteria count of 185,000. Woah.
According to Dr. Charles Gerba, a microbiologist at the University of Arizona, the killer germ E.coli ‘loves to grow’ on top of the pepper containers at restaurants.
‘It's a plant-based product. Maybe that has something to do with it,’ he told Today. He went on to suggest that people should ‘skip the pepper or bring individual packets with you’ to avoid contamination. Good advice!
As for why the shakers attract so much germs, one expert says it’s not hard to guess.
‘Most salt and pepper shakers are only wiped down if they appear dirty, and even then, only with a damp cloth that bussers keep in their pockets,’ consumer safety expert Jonas Sickler told Reader’s Digest.
‘While some restaurants collect, refill, and wipe down shakers, they are rarely properly emptied and sanitized.’
The expert goes on to advise that it’s not enough for people to just avoid salt and pepper shakers, they should move them off the table - with a napkin - just to be sure.
‘Even people who don't intend to season their food will move them around on the table—definitely something to consider as enter flu season,’ he says.
I guess we’ll be taking anti-bacterial wipes next time we eat out!