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Researcher Says Most Lemon Slices in Restaurants are Contaminated-Truth!
Summary of the eRumor: The forwarded email appears to be an article
featuring the findings of microbiologist Anne LaGrange Loving who found
that two-thirds of the lemons tested from 21 restaurants were contaminated
with bacteria when added as slices to beverages.
The Truth: This study was published in December, 2007 in
the Journal of Environmental Health. It was co-authored by Anne
LaGrange Loving and John Perz.
The authors collected 76 lemon slices from 21 restaurants on 43 visits in
Patterson, New Jersey. They swabbed both the lemon slice and the
glass on which the slice had been placed and immediately after the glass
had been brought to them. The result was that they found
contamination on both the flesh and the rind of most of the lemon wedges,
although they did not research how it got there. Some of it could
have arrived with the fruit from the field, some of it could have been
through contamination from the hands of employees. Some of it could
have been from contaminated work surfaces.
The U.S. Food and Drug
Administration conducted a study in 2004 of both fast food and full
service restaurants. The conclusion was that there was poor personal
hygiene on the part of employees at 31 percent of the fast food
restaurants and more than 41 percent of the full service restaurants.
A real example of the eRumor as it has
appeared on the Internet:
The Lemon in your Drink
Lemon With Your Drink? Restaurant Lemons Are Loaded With Germs
Beware the lemon in your drink. It could make you sick.
When restaurant workers place a lemon wedge on your glass of water,
tea, or soda, they are apparently spiking your drink with germs.
A new study by a New Jersey microbiologist found nasty bacteria on
two-thirds of the lemons that were tested from 21 restaurants.
"It was gross," said Anne LaGrange Loving, assistant science professor
at Passaic County Community College."
Loving decided to do the study after noticing a waitress with dirty
fingernails delivering a drink to a table.
"They put lemon in my Diet Coke, I didn't ask for it, and so I decided
to do a study"
Loving and her team swabbed for bacteria as soon as drinks hit the
table at restaurants all around Paterson, New Jersey.
"You would think they had dipped the lemons in raw meat," she said,
referring to the high levels of bacteria that she found.
The swabs of lemon wedges revealed everything from high counts of
fecal bacteria to a couple of dozen other microorganisms -- most of
which can make you sick. They found bacteria on the rind and on the
flesh of the lemons.
Health laws require lemons to be handled with gloves or tongs. But its
common practice for waiters and waitresses to simply pop the little
lemon wedge onto a drinking glass with their bare hands.
If an employee's hands aren't clean, however, then touching the lemons
vb is likely to contaminate them with bacteria according to Loving.
This is not the first time that Anne Loving has gone looking for
bacteria in unusual places. She did a study several years ago and
found bacteria on communion cups.
"You'd just have to know me," she laughed. "I'm a germ freak."
But, Loving says, the results of the study point to a significant problem.
"People need to know that the lemons have bacteria on them that can
make them sick."
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