Your Favorite Restaurant Could Be Getting You Sick—Before You Even Order

It might be time to kick the habit of reaching for the ketchup bottle the next time you order fries.

RestaurantPitipat Usanakornkul

The most commonplace things, like hotel hair dryers and your very own wallet, are often overlooked as hotbeds for bacteria. While they may not be as dirty as your kitchen sponge, the aforementioned objects are superhighways for human contact, making them germ central. That brings us to your restaurant table, another surface that’s touched by countless people a day. Still, one would think that restaurants are on the cleanser side of things, given Health Department inspections.

According to Men’s Health, however, this is not the case, at least when it comes to the tables. Researchers from Bowling Green State University swabbed the ketchup bottles, salt shakers, and menus from four different restaurants on six separate occasions, and the results were kinda nasty.

The biggest culprit of the three was the ketchup bottles, which were found to have aerobic bacteria (which grows in the presence of oxygen) in 100 percent of the readings, while the menus had a rate of 83 percent. E. coli bacteria was discovered on four percent of the ketchup bottles and eight percent of the menus. Coliform bacteria (a name for larger bacteria family which E. Coli is a member of and is frequently found in the bodies of warm-blooded animals) was found on 17 percent of salt shakers and four percent of ketchup bottles.

You may have seen waiters regularly cycling the floor with red sanitizer buckets and rags in hand, but their efforts can only do so much to combat the microscopic menace of bacteria, especially when dealing with objects which may not be regularly wiped down (looking at you, ketchup bottles, menus, and salt shakers). Maybe bring some hand sanitizer for your next trip to Fuddruckers, and in the meantime, try to avoid these unexpectedly germy scenarios.

[Source: Men’s Health]