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Condiments: Nice to meet you, germs.
Reaching for ketchup, salt, and pepper is basically the equivalent of shaking hands with everyone who has held those bottles before you. Since condiments are typically handled right before (or during) the meal, the bacteria on them are most likely to go directly into your mouth.

Solution: Using a disposable napkin to handle the condiments provides a protective glove for your hands. Another option is to ask the waiter or waitress to bring you a to-go package of your spice or sauce.


Utensils: Forkfuls of microorganisms.
When utensils look shiny, we often assume that they were washed thoroughly and are germ-free. In many cases, however, the culprit for “dirty” utensils is the tabletop that they lie on … or the dirty hands that wrapped them in the napkin.

Solution: Whether you ask for plastic utensils or use the silverware provided, make sure that the utensils never come into direct contact with the tabletop. You can keep them on your plate or on a napkin at all times. Another good idea is to ask for a hot cup of water to soak the silverware. However, for bacteria to actually die, the temperature of the hot water must be at a higher temperature than what your skin can bear.


Menus: Would you like a side of bacteria with your order?
One of the most frequent objects you touch in a restaurant is the menu. Countless people have touched the same object, and all of the bacteria from their hands are spreading to yours. Even when the staff cleans the menus, they typically only use water as the cleaning solution, which does not kill the bacteria.

Solution: Once you place your order and return the menu, wash your hands or use hand sanitizer.


Lemons: The rumors are true.
For years, people have warned against getting lemon wedges in beverages or “on the side,” but we hoped (and maybe assumed) that these rumors were wrong. However, according to Dr. Gerba, “There are many studies about the bacteria found on the outside of lemons in restaurants.” Sometimes, after handling money and bussing tables, the serving staff uses their hands to put the lemons on plates and in glasses.

Solution: Just say no to the lemons. If you need lemons in your beverage, consider bringing your own lemon wedges from home.


High Chairs and Booster Seats: Hello, E. coli.
As you might expect, high chairs are covered in germs left behind by little ones with busy hands. What you might not expect, however, is the E. coli that has been found in these seats. Frequently, children have dirty diapers as they enjoy their meals, which can lead to deposits of E. coli for the next child to sit in.

Solution: Antibacterial wipes make it quick, easy, and classy to clean a high chair or booster seat. There are also shopping cart/ high chair seat covers that work well. They can be washed immediately after leaving the restaurant. c
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