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Saturday, March 08, 2008
Admit it, you’ve done it -- squeezing the lemon wedge into your water and then dropping it right into your glass. It certainly isn’t something you would think of as particularly harmful, that is until now.
Still, this study, though gross, is not particularly shocking.
It appears that many in the restaurant industry are failing to properly wash their hands after they have a bowel movement. Obviously this is something very difficult to police as there aren’t surveillance cameras in the restrooms and the offending bacteria are essentially invisible.
However, even if they hadn’t washed their hands, if they at least were wearing protective gloves when they handled the lemons or any of your food, this would be a non-issue.
Unfortunately, even the most well-run, health-minded restaurants probably have disease-causing bacteria crawling all over places it shouldn’t be, it’s just that no one has conducted a test yet to bring it to light.
Restaurant Lemon Wedges: Playing Russian Roulette With Your Health?
Should you now boycott all restaurant lemon wedges, because sooner or later you will get one that will make you sick?
Well, if you have a compromised immune system, are elderly, or are referring to a small child, perhaps. These are the people who are most likely to become sick from rogue bacteria.
For most of you, however, particularly if you’ve been following basic health principles, your immune system can more than handle the bacteria found on a contaminated lemon rind.
If it couldn’t, we’d all be in trouble, considering that over 65 percent of colds, 50 percent of all cases of diarrhea and 50 percent to 80 percent of food-borne illnesses are caught not in restaurants but in your own homes.
So while the idea of strange fecal bacteria coating your restaurant lemon wedge is disgusting, and certainly not hygienic, your own kitchen is probably home to some of it as well. Studies have actually shown that there could be up to 200 times more fecal bacteria on your kitchen cutting board than on your toilet seat.
The sponge that you use to wash your dishes is another one that is commonly loaded with disease-causing bacteria (for a quick tip on how to really clean your sponges, click here), as are computer keyboards, desks, phone receivers and shopping cart handles.
And did I mention that one of the “riskiest” ways to get an infection is by simply shaking hands with someone? It’s true. So unless you plan to shun not only lemon wedges but also your kitchen, dishwashing sponges, computer keyboard, grocery shopping and handshakes, I’d suggest following these simple tips to keep your immune system up to par:
* Get a good night’s sleep
* Minimize stress in your life
* Exercise regularly and effectively
* Get enough sun exposure or, alternatively, enough of the right vitamin D (if you live in a cold environment where you can't stay out in the sun)
* Avoid sugar and grains, and instead eat plenty of raw foods
* Take a high-quality probiotic (good bacteria)
A Dirty Lemon May be the Best Thing on Your Plate
Most of you probably know that I am not a huge fan of eating out, not because of this lemon video, but because of the major unknowns at most restaurants, such as food quality, preparation and addition of toxic unknowns like high-fructose corn syrup, preservatives and MSG. Also much of the food is actually cooked in microwaves to speed up delivery. So that is one of the primary reasons why I rarely eat out.
Unfortunately, this is not the attitude of most people in the United States, as in 2006 the average U.S. household spent close to HALF of its food budget on meals eaten away from home, according to The Survey of Consumer Expenditures for 2006, released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Did you know, for instance, that an order of “Aussie Cheese Fries” at Outback Steakhouse has 2,900 calories, which is more calories than most people need in an entire day (and more French fries than anyone needs in a lifetime)?
Or that the “100 percent all-natural chicken” served at Arby’s contains artificial flavoring?
My point here is this: when you go out to a restaurant, you MAY end up with some extra bacteria on your lemon wedge, but you will almost assuredly end up with an extra-large plate full of artificial flavors, corn syrup and maybe some trans fats. Even at a higher end restaurant, you’ll likely be served farm-raised fish, grain-fed meat, and overcooked veggies.
So what is your option?
Either you, or one of your friends or relatives, needs to invest some quality time in the kitchen so most of your meals are made with unprocessed, high-quality food that you can enjoy with your family. This way, you control the ingredients, you control the portion sizes, and you control whether or not you wash your hands before cutting up your lemon wedges.