Do you know the 7 germiest things in a restaurant? Microbiologist Phillip Tierno does. He and his team from New York University went undercover, into restaurants in 3 different states to find out where the germs are hiding. And heads up – they’re not in the bathroom. Here’s what you really need to watch out for – in descending order – from slightly germy to a bacteria-bomb waiting to infect you:

  • Salad bar tongs. Dr. Tierno suspects the tongs aren’t so bad because we don’t eat enough salads.
  • Bathroom faucets and bathroom door knobs. They weren’t so bad either. They get a bad rep for being dirty, but they’re not as nasty as they could be because they’re consistently cleaned.
  • Drinking glasses! Researchers saw many waiters gripping the glasses by the rim before serving. As a result, tests detected multiple bacteria – including one linked to tuberculosis. The lesson? Use a straw.
  • Beware of salt and pepper shakers! The study found that half of them were contaminated with illness-causing germs, because they’re rarely cleaned.
  • Lemons! If you love lemon in your water, you may not anymore! Lemons are the 3rd germiest restaurant item – and half of the lemon wedges tested were tainted with human waste. Researchers explain contamination happens when workers go to the bathroom without washing their hands, then grab lemons with their bare hands.
  • Menus. Researchers found bacteria on menus that can do everything from cause strep throat to staph infections.
  • Your seat! It’s the germiest thing in the bunch! The study found that 70% of restaurant seats had bacteria on them, including E. coli. That’s because most restaurants don't even think to sanitize seats unless they look dirty.

Lesson Expert

Meredith McKenna