Do you like your glass of sky juice flavoured say with a wedge of lemon?
I sure do! This is especially so at restaurants. It makes me feel more “atas” (classy)!
Let me warn you. You might be drinking more than you bargained for as those garnishes could be serving up a doze of unappetizing organisms!
Researchers swabbed the rinds and flesh of lemons from some restaurants and found that a mindboggling 70% of them have microbial growth! The samples were collected as soon as the beverage was served, before drinking or touching. Researchers speculated that these microorganisms could have possibly come from the restaurant employees or raw meat or poultry contamination.
It’s rather weird as although lemons have known antimicrobial properties, a wide variety of microorganisms may still survive on the flesh and the rind of a sliced lemon. This means that lemon slices added to beverages may include potentially pathogenic microbes! Ouch! Yikes!
Most employees handle lemons with their bare hands and they may not diligently wash and scrub the lemons. It's also easy for a worker's hands, whether it be a bartender serving up a drink or a chef slicing the fruit in the kitchen, to cross-contaminate after dealing with patrons, washing glasses and handling food.
But fret not! According to researcher, there is only a small but distinct risk that lemon wedges might make you sick. Usually there would be no infection, but there is a small possibility. Our immune system is usually pretty good at fighting these microbes.
So you may just decide to squeeze the lemon juice directly into the water instead of throwing in a lemon wedge into your glass? Well, doing so will reduce exposure but you’ll never be able to eliminate it 100%. This is because even the flesh of the lemon can be contaminated!
But please don’t freak out just yet. You need to realize that similar organisms are present in all restaurants and in every surface area. This includes ketchup bottles and salt and peppershakers to menus and table surfaces! And the same likely goes for a variety of other drink garnishes too such as onions, limes, cherry etc.
So how do your manage this or protect yourselves? Start by adopting the most basic of action- hand washing as frequent as possible and/or use hand sanitizers Choosing a clean restaurant also helps but there’s no guarantee. If you still feel freakish, your best bet could be to cook and eat at home. But that too doesn’t guarantee anything.