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Menus and restaurant seats are rife with germs27th of December 2012
Restaurant seats and menu cards are among the dirtiest surfaces in a typical eating house, according to a small-scale US study.
And lemons in drinks and salt and pepper shakers were also found to be among the most bacteria-laden items.
US TV reporter Elisabeth Leamy of ABC News went undercover at 10 restaurants in three states and took swab samples from various surfaces. Around 70 per cent of the chair seats tested showed traces of 17 kinds of harmful bacteria including strains of E. coli.
Of the menus tested, the bacteria that causes staph infections was found on at least one and the germs that cause strep throat on another. And half the lemon wedges commonly used in drinks and to garnish salads were found to be contaminated with faecal matter. Cameras caught restaurant workers using their bare hands to reach for lemon wedges, a potential source of contamination if they had failed to wash their hands well after using the washroom.
Half the salt and pepper shaker swabs tested were found to be contaminated, and the rims of many glasses were also found to harbour bacteria. This was thought to be caused by waiters holding glasses by the rim where customers drink, providing pathogens with a direct route into customers' bodies. Leamy's tests detected multiple bacteria on the rims of glasses including one linked with tuberculosis.
And the surfaces harbouring the least amount of germs included the washroom taps, presumably because these tended to be more frequently cleaned.