25 Things You Should Never, Ever Eat at a Restaurant
How long has that bottle of ketchup been sitting on the table? How fresh is the bread in that basket? From the drastically overpriced to the downright dirty, there are some menu items to never order at a restaurant, no matter how much you love the place. We spoke to food safety experts, dietitians, and chefs and compiled a list of things you should completely avoid on your next meal out.
Whether you’re at a chain restaurant or a local hotspot, be wary of these items.
1. Drink garnishes
Kimberly Barnes, founder of Might Be Vegan and a private, plant-based chef in Atlanta, GA, recommends avoiding lemon and lime slices and other drink garnishes at bars and restaurants. Why? A study of 76 lemons at 21 different restaurants published in The Journal of Environmental Health found that 53 of them contained microbial growth. Of the positive culture results, seven were E. coli.
Food blogger and editor of Eat, Drink, Be San Diego Michelle Stansbury also strongly warns against eating or using the garnishes at the bar because bartenders often aren’t held to the same sanitary standards as the kitchen. It’s likely that the fruits in drinks are unwashed and sit out for days without being refrigerated. Do you recall your bartender washing their hands between sorting cash and dropping a cherry in your cocktail? We figured.
2. Raw sprouts
A staple in vegan and Asian cuisine, raw sprouts are often added to salads and sandwiches for extra crunch. But this crunch can come at a cost. According to Barnes, the humid temperatures that sprouts need in order to grow can also be the perfect breeding ground for Salmonella, Listeria, and E.coli. After a foodborne illness outbreak at Jimmy John’s, the company decided to remove sprouts from their menu.
3. Tap water
Barnes also warns against tap waters, suggesting you stick to the bottled stuff despite the price tag. “Tap water, while under federal regulations from the EPA, can still contain trace amounts of harmful contaminants, including lead, chlorine, mercury, and herbicides,” Barnes says. “And it is our personal responsibility to limit our own exposure to these trace elements, as the long-term health effects of chronic exposure are questionable.”