You might be wondering, the last place where you ate was a restaurant. There were no flies around or any bug that might have contaminated your food that could have caused your stomach ache. The restaurant’s interior looks very clean and before the waiter led you to your seat, the table looks spiffy clean like it was disinfected just for you. No crumbs or whatsoever, the entire place just looks so clean and you can’t imagine why you even got sick in the first place. It doesn’t even look like a dirty restaurant.
The thing is, even the cleanest restaurants have the dirtiest secrets hiding behind their kitchen and tables.
It all starts with the menu. As soon as you get settled in your seat, the first thing they hand over is the menu. They don’t wipe that or disinfect that every other customer. It’s probably the dirtiest thing that you can get your hands on a restaurant. Probably as dirty as a toilet seat if you’re unlucky. The menu is a bacteria paradise. Everyone who dined in this restaurant has contributed to the ecosystem of bacteria living on its pages. Who knows, someone who might have recently been feeling ill has touched it as well.
The condiments on top of your table aren’t free of bacteria either. Your salt and pepper shakers probably haven’t been washed for ages. They just refill it before it runs out. I haven’t really seen any airtight salt shakers either and anything that’s warm and damp is always a breeding ground for bacteria. Good Morning America sent a swab of these items to scientists and they found that the average amount of bacteria living in these restaurant items are about 185,000. Of course, that’s just an average because there are worse restaurants out there that have horrible sanitation.
The solution? Wash your hands after ordering and touching the menu. It may not totally give you 99.9% germ-free dining, but it can lessen the chances of you ingesting most of that 185,000.
Not everyone who is sick is entitled to an off day, especially those who have low-paying jobs. A lot of poor and transient people work in restaurant establishments and they won’t risk losing that $100 just because they’re sick. Their managers won’t risk having very few people on the deck either, just because of a common cough or cold. Come to think of it, it’s not like you’d know that someone who is sniffling their way through work is handling your food. In fact, it has been reported that 53% of food chain workers go to work even when they’re sick.
There are restaurants that require back-end health precautions for this. Some would require gloves, hairnets, and masks for those who are in the kitchen. However, this gives a false sense of security. Plastic gloves could even be more dangerous than bare hands! Those who prepare your food can go from touching raw chicken to touching another food item. Gloves can become a vehicle for worse contamination when it’s not changed often. It’s even worse when someone who prepares your food also touches the cash register.
The solution? This isn’t exactly avoidable. It’s one of those dirty restaurant secrets that couldn’t be solved no matter what.
Bathroom VS Kitchen
If you step into a restaurant’s bathroom and you’re greeted by a filthy one, what makes you think that their kitchen could be any better? It’s a simple logic: If they have poor sanitation where the customers can see, they’ll have worse sanitation where the customers can’t see.
We all know how faucet handles can still be a breeding ground for more bacteria. Turning that faucet on and off can easily transfer bacteria back into your newly washed hands.
I’m not even going to elaborate how badly they could be maintaining their eating utensils. How they just drop all the unwashed plates and utensils in the same sink that they wash raw food, their hands, and other things in. Again, if the customers can’t see how they’ve been washing things, it’s not like you’d know that the spoon that went into someone else’s mouth isn’t washed as properly as you’ve imagined.
When you’re dining in a restaurant and you’re on a diet, you’re probably just better off eating and preparing your own meals at home. Restaurants don’t care if the calories are more than what they advertise. They just prepare your meals and not count the calories for you. The reason behind this is that low-calorie food doesn’t exactly taste that good because they have to compromise on ingredients that make a dish taste amazing. If that’s the case, you won’t find their meals appealing because it doesn’t taste good. A dish that doesn’t taste good won’t make you come back to that restaurant and that’s not a good thing for them. Restaurants can trick you to spend and eat more.
Just so you know, fast food restaurants have a more accurate calorie count than non-fast food ones. Mainly because their ingredients are accurately measured beforehand.
While most of these dirty restaurant secrets don’t have a solution because you can just decontaminate your food and restaurant surroundings, I would highly suggest that you lessen eating at restaurants. It’s better and healthier to just prepare your own food at home where you can make sure that you only get the best and the cleanest preparation possible. You can even control your portions and lessen the amount of food and ingredients that are harming your gut health.