Going outside is always fraught with danger for a germaphobe. Take a single step beyond your front door and you will be bombarded by all sorts of nasty bugs waiting to infect you with something unspeakably awful. And that’s all before you have to interact with the great unwashed. It’s enough to make your skin crawl.
Obviously, restaurants make matters far worse. Sitting, talking and eating surrounded by lord only knows how many dirty creepy crawlies whilst staying relaxed is almost impossible for any sane individual. Think of all the grubby hands that have grabbed your food! Fortunately, thanks to some stellar reporting from ABC News, we now know exactly where the worst places in a restaurant are and how to avoid them. Grab some rubber gloves and dive in.
9. Salad Bar Tongs
Used throughout the course of the day and handled by many different people, these utensils only avoid ranking higher because, presumably, we aren’t eating enough salad. Though germy, salad tongs definitely aren’t as bad as it gets.
8. Condiment bottles
The combination of constant touching and slowly mouldering dribbles of sauce make condiment bottles a heaven for germs. However, since contact is fairly brief, contamination remains limited.
7. Bathroom taps and doorknobs
You might think that where people wee and poo would be higher up the list of grimey places. However, thanks to the special attention that they receive from cleaners, it turns out that the bathroom is actually relatively clean.
Thanks to servers gripping the rim before pouring drinks, ABC found that glasses were easily one of the safest havens for germs in an entire restaurant. In the tests that the investigative team carried out, several types of bacteria were found - including one linked to causing tuberculosis.
As part of their investigation, ABC were told by staff that restaurant tables are used for everything from changing nappies to giving pets somewhere to sit. It’s little surprise, therefore, that they rank as highly as they do.
4. Salt and Pepper Shakers
They might look crystal clear, but salt and pepper shakers are far from innocent bystanders at the dinner table. Because they are touched so regularly, yet hardly ever cleaned, seasoning pots are a prime place for bacteria to thrive.
3. Lemon wedges
The ABC report found evidence of lemon wedges being continually reused and touched by multiple staff throughout the course of a day, making them a prime spot for nasty things to thrive.
Touched by anyone and everyone who ever goes into a restaurant, I defy you to tell me the last time you spotted a non-laminated menu being cleaned. The ABC report found the bacteria that cause staph infections on one sample and the bug that causes strep on another.
What’s the only thing worse than a menu? What everyone is sitting on. The investigators found that up to 70% of chairs were contaminated, some with as many as 17 different kinds of bacteria. Maybe we should all be eating in the bathroom.
At the end of the day, it’s probably better to ignore all the nasty things you know are crawling around on your expensive meal. But, at the very least, it pays to be prepared. Maybe now we will all spend an extra few seconds washing our hands.