It has always been said that the menu is the dirtiest surface in a restaurant. Harboring an estimated 185,000 bacteria the menu is literally dirtier than most toilet seats. YUCK!! And to make things even worse, the bathroom isn’t the second dirtiest thing in the restaurant. No, that item is sitting right on the table in front of you.
That’s right, the second dirtiest thing in a restaurant is the pepper shaker. How do you figure that you ask? Think of how many different people have handled that same shaker before you. If you really look at it, does it look clean? Most times, it will have a sticky feel. Factor in that the cleanliness of the pepper shaker isn’t that high on the restaurants to do list, and you can see how it is just pretty much—well—gross.
Oh, and don’t think this lack of cleanliness is limited to just the pepper shaker. Nope—it also includes the salt, sugar, cheese, and almost any other shaker sitting on the table. Pepper was mentioned primarily because it wins the contest for the surface with the most germ content.
ABC News conducted a study and according to their results, the average pepper shaker contains an estimated bacteria count of 11,600. The general reason for such a high germ count is that in most cases the shakers are only cleaned if they are noticed to be dirty. And then that cleaning consists of a simple wipe down with a damp cloth.
A Readers Digest article quoted Jonas Sickler, Director of Operations at ConsumerSafety.org, stating:
“While some restaurants collect, refill and wipe down shakers, they are rarely properly emptied and sanitized.”
Another disturbing fact is that toddlers are encouraged to play with the germ-covered shakers, as a means for parents to occupy the small one’s time. With a good coating of drool, plus whatever else may be coating the child’s hands, the shaker is sure to have germs adhering to it even better.
Even customers who have no intention of even using the condiments inside the shakers will move them around absentmindedly. Definitely, something to consider as we are heading into the cold, virus and flu season.