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9 of the Dirtiest Things in a Restaurant

Salt and pepper shakers are shown.
(Frank May/AP)

By    |   Monday, 13 January 2020 10:51 AM

Eating out is meant to be an enjoyable experience but nothing ruins things faster than a bout of food poisoning. Paying attention to the menu and avoiding certain foods can help to minimize your risk but some things are out of your control -- like stale snacks that are reused and dirty salad tongs.

Some eateries tend to skimp when it comes to cleaning, as Reader's Digest revealed in a report on the dirtiest things at a restaurant. Here are nine of those things:

1. Salt and pepper shakers. You may want to make sure you have hand wipes with you the next time you eat out, especially if you are reaching for the salt and peppers shakers, which reportedly have a bacteria count of 11,600. More concerning is that researchers have found E. coli on the shakers.

2. Menus. Restaurants often neglect cleaning their menus, which have been touched by hundreds of people and are teeming with bacteria. "You probably have about 100 times more bacteria on that menu than you do a typical toilet seat in the restroom," Dr. Chuck Gerba of the University of Arizona said, per Reader's Digest.

3. Glassware and silverware. These items are put through a dishwasher but are then handled by busboys and servers, who may have not washed their hands in a while and may have touched dozens of items containing bacteria.

4. Ice machine. Cleaning the inside of an ice machine is a tedious task, which is why many restaurants neglect to do so. As a result, the ice from these machines may be contaminated with bacteria.

5. Salad tongs. Loading up on salad may be a healthy choice but the salad tongs you are using may jeopardize the benefits. Dozens of people will handle the tongs before they are changed out and there is no telling what bacteria may have been transferred to your own hands.

6. Rags and sponges. We know that the sponges and rags we use in our kitchen are among the dirtiest places in our own house but how many of us have stopped to think how this translates in a restaurant, where sponges are used to wash countless dishes, and dirty rags are used to wipe down all the tables.

7. Chairs. It makes sense that chairs will contain E. coli bacteria, but how often do staff wipe down the chairs at a restaurant?

8. Snack bowls. It is hard not to nibble on the snacks laid out in a bowl at a bar but what you may not realize is that the bowl of nuts you are dipping into is likely the leftovers from the day before, which were put away for the night then used to refill the snack bowls the following day.

9. Plastic gloves. The plastic gloves worn by a cook may actually be a cesspool of bacteria. "Plastic gloves are more dangerous than bare hands," said Howard Cannon, CEO of Restaurant Expert Witness. Cooks may not change their gloves after handling raw meat and could easily contaminate other food they touch.

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Eating out is meant to be an enjoyable experience but nothing ruins things faster than a bout of food poisoning. Paying attention to the menu and avoiding certain foods can help to minimize your risk but some things are out of your control.
eating out, dirty things restaurants, restaurants
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2020-51-13
Monday, 13 January 2020 10:51 AM
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