Investigating the horrifying bacteria hidden in restaurants’ most unlikely places, Anderson Cooper has revealed the top three dirtiest culprits are beverage lemons, lettuce wedges and the condiment racks found on tables.
“I get self conscious with the salt things,” Anderson Cooper said.
“How many people with dirty hands and snotty noses have been playing with the salt on the condiments rack? And I doubt they clean it.”
Howard Cannon, a restaurant consultant for insurance companies investigating claims of food poisoning, replied: “They’ll clean it, but they’ll take a wet towel and rub the top of it which makes flies attracted to it, because it brings residue from other things onto it.”
“A fly lands on top of the condiment dispensers, and what do you think the fly is doing there? Laying eggs,” he added.
“Eggs drop into the condiments, which gives the little babies something to eat.”
Anderson Cooper visibly cringes, and asks about the lemon wedges offered with beverages in bars, restaurants, and even on planes.
“The outside of the lemon doesn’t get washed,” said Howard Cannon.
“The wedges are cut well in advance for high volume, and they’ll squeeze the lemon into the water, rub it around the edge of the glass.
“It’s just moving bacteria from lemon into the water,” he said.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 76 million cases of food poisoning were recorded last year, and 3,000 were fatal.
Surprisingly, iceberg lettuce is a top germ trap.
“Restaurants let it sit at room temperature because it’s busy,” Howard Cannon said.
“They clean the outside of the lettuce, but if you look at the inside, it’s porous and it never gets cleaned.
“You order, you get your dressing, also sitting at room temperature, with bacteria growing on all of it. Then you move the bacteria from the dressing onto the bacteria on lettuce; you go home, and a few hours later you’re sick.”
Anderson Cooper also investigated the dangers found at restaurant indoor play areas for children.
After Erin Carr-Jordan took her toddler to a McDonald’s playground, she said she was shocked and appalled at the amount of old food, trash and excess dirt hiding in the playground’s cracks and corners.
She decided to swab the areas and run lab tests, which showed traces of meningitis and gonorrhea.
Now the executive director of Play Safe, the mother has taken her study to over 20 states and more than 70 locations.
Erin Carr-Jordan explained: “What we’ve found is beyond concern… the bacteria problems can cause illness, infection, and potentially death.”