Sunday, March 23, 2008

General Health Topic - Restaurant Lemons Loaded with Germs?

Hello Everyone,

The latest potential health situation out there is based on a small study that was done in New Jersey. The study tested lemon wedges in 21 restaurants and found them teeming with bacteria.

I don't know about you, but here in Texas where we really enjoy our iced tea and margaritas, most people don't think twice about squeezing their lemon or lime into the drink and then plopping the wedge into the drink.

Health laws in most locations require lemons to be handled just like any other food item, with gloves or tongs. But its common practice simply place the lemon or lime wedge onto a drinking glass with bare hands.

If an employee's hands aren't clean, however, then touching the lemons is likely to contaminate them with bacteria. Also, were the lemons/limes washed?

In the study, the swabs of lemon wedges revealed everything from high counts of fecal bacteria to a couple of dozen other microorganisms -- many of which can make you sick. They found bacteria on the rind and on the flesh of the lemons.

Should we be concerned?

Some folks just freak out knowing that another person touched their food. And while there is no reason to doubt that bacteria was present on the wedges, the actual threat is yet to be determined. Has anyone actually become ill due to the bacteria on lemon wedges?

For me, the importance is to know that there is potential problem that will require more study. Hopefully, bringing this potentially unsafe practice to light will spur restaurant workers to be more diligent in handling our food.

We can also be more pro-active by requiring the restaurants that we frequent to use proper food handling techniques.

Until then, I am going to have another glass of tea. With lemon, you ask?

Of Course! Ok, maybe I'll just squeeze it in and discard the rest.


Dr. Paul

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