How to Avoid Getting Sick from Restaurants

If you live in Utah, then you’ve probably heard about the recent Hepatitis A breakouts. These breakouts happened at a couple different locations, but two of them that have been announced so far are restaurants! Not a very appetizing thought. This recent outbreak is definitely a plug for avoiding eating out and instead enjoying a home-cooked meal! But if you do decide to go out, there are a few things you should be aware of to help avoid all those nasty germs!

Wash your hands after touching the menus. We don’t usually think about the menus being disgusting, because we’re thinking of all the delicious food we’re about to eat- but think about it! Those menus touch a bazillion hands over the course of even just 1 week, and it’s not like menu-washing is a thing. Even if restaurants sanitize each menu in between orders, there’s no guarantee of how well they’re getting the job done! Place your order, and then go wash your hands with soap and warm water!

Sanitize the condiments. If you’re not going to add extra salt to your fries or ketchup to your burger, leave the condiments alone! They’re just another grubby place for germs to lay in wait. You don’t know who’s touched that pepper shaker, and how well they washed their hands before doing so! If you do decide you need extra condiments, sanitize your hands after using them, or use a disinfectant wipe (like Clorox or Lysol) on the condiment bottles before using.

Pass on the lemon water. Some studies suggest that a whopping 70% of lemons found in restaurants have some kind of bacteria on them, whether fecal (like E. coli) or other- that’s definitely not something you want to add to your water! Opt for plain old water instead, and just bring a packet of Crystal Light if you can’t stand the taste of plain tap water.

Be careful in the bathroom. 25% of soap dispensers have traces of fecal matter, so make sure you really scrub your hands with hot water after you get your soap! In addition, you don’t know how well people did (or didn’t!) wash their hands after taking care of business, and all those dirty hands have to touch the same door handle to get out of the restroom. Use a paper towel to open the bathroom door, and if you can, sanitize your hands afterwards.

Beware the buffets. Buffets are full of bacteria. Think of how many hands are grabbing those serving utensils, and there’s no telling how many people didn’t wash their hands after using the restroom or sneezed into their hand before grabbing the handle. Use a napkin to grab the serving utensils, or keep a small sanitizer bottle handy for after you dish up your food!

Wipe down the table and high chairs. In between customers, there’s not a whole lot of sanitizing going on- usually a quick wipe down to get rid of all the crumbs and that’s it! One study even found that tables actually had more bacteria after being wiped down than before! Bring a Clorox or Lysol wipe so you can wipe down the table yourself. You’ll also want to wipe down any high chairs or booster seats you may be using, because not only have they been touched by many grubby little hands, but many have come in contact with a dirty diaper or two, and there’s no telling how much E. coli could be laying in wait.

While these tips won’t help you avoid everything, they can definitely help! Wash your hands after using the restroom, bring disinfectant wipes and hand sanitizer, and avoid going out to eat if your immune system is compromised in any way.

Hopefully you can still enjoy eating out after reading this article, but maybe you’ll be a little wiser! ;)


    Camille Hoffmann
    Weekly Newsletter Contributor since 2014
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