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Lemon wedges in restaurants are loaded with germs

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According to Huffington Post on Jan. 29, you might never ask your waitress for lemon in your water again.

A slice of lemon can spruce up plain water, but along with the lemon comes more germs that you can imagine. If you are accustomed to drinking lemon in your water, iced tea or diet soda you might never ask for a lemon wedge again after reading this article.

The Journal of Environmental Health reports that researchers swabbed the rinds and flesh of 76 lemons from 21 restaurants collected during 43 visits and found that 70 percent of them produced microbial growth. The authors wrote in their reports, "Restaurant patrons should be aware that lemon slices added to beverages may include potentially pathogenic microbes."

The germs on lemon wedges could come from the restaurant employee or raw meat or poultry contamination, among other sources.

An experiment conducted by Philip Tierno, Ph.D., clinical professor of microbiology and pathology at NYU Langone Medical Center, found that half of lemon wedges collected from various restaurants were contaminated with human fecal matter. The experiment commissioned by ABC news showed cameras had captured employees handling lemons with their bare hands. Tierno concluded that restaurants may not be diligently washing lemons. They might be rinsing them, but apparently they don't scrub them.

The study showed that a worker's hand might not be clean after using the bathroom. Fecal matter has been found on lemon wedges as well as a fungus commonly found in the vagina.

Will you get sick from drinking germ-infected lemon wedges? The risk is very small, but who wants to drink germs from fecal matter and fungus from someone's vagina?

If you desire lemon juice in your water or drink, you can choose to squeeze the juice directly into the drink yourself instead of letting the lemon wedge float in your glass while you are having your meal. This method will reduce the exposure, but it will not eliminate it entirely because the flesh of the lemon can be contaminated as well as the rind.

The lemon wedge is not the only thing with germs attached to it. Other drink garnishes such as small onion, limes and cherries might also have germs. Be careful with salt and pepper shakers, ketchup bottles and even dirty menus.

After reading this, will you continue to ask for a lemon wedge in your beverages?

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