There’s nothing better than heading out to dinner for a lovely meal with family or friends, are we right?
But a new US study could change exactly what you do next time you’re eating out if you want to avoid a whole lot of germs - including E.coli. Ewww!
A report by ABC News reveals that menus and salt and pepper shakers have ridiculously high bacteria levels.
The study saw researchers swabs items on the tables of 12 restaurants in three states - New York, Ohio, and Arizona - with the swabs then tested for ‘total bacteria counts and coliforms, a broad class of bacteria found in our environment.’
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!