Bacteria-infested lemon wedges and fly eggs on salt dispensers: Anderson Cooper reveals restaurants' horrifying hidden germs
16:47 GMT, 19 October 2012
The biggest germ traps found in restaurants have nothing to do with undercooked meat or day-old seafood. It's the iceberg lettuce you should be worrying about.
Investigating the horrifying bacteria hidden in restaurants' most unlikely places, Anderson Cooper has revealed the top three dirtiest culprits are beverage lemons, lettuce wedges and the condiment racks found on tables across America.
'I get self conscious with the salt things,' the host said. 'How many people with dirty hands and snotty noses have been
playing with the salt on the condiments rack And I doubt they clean it.'
Horrifying truth: Anderson Cooper reveals the top three germ traps are beverage lemons, lettuce wedges and the condiment racks found on tables across America
Howard Cannon, a restaurant consultant for insurance companies investigating claims of food poisoning, replied: 'They'll clean it, but they'll take a wet
towel and rub the top of it which makes flies attracted to it, because it brings residue
from other things onto it.
'A fly lands on top of the condiment dispensers, and what do you think the fly is doing there Laying eggs,' he added.
'Eggs drop into the condiments, which gives the little babies something to eat.'
Ketchup culprit: According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 76 million cases of food poisoning were recorded last year, and 3,000 were fatal
Salt shakers: Howard Cannon (middle), a restaurant consultant specialising in food poisoning, reveals the germs hidden on salt and ketchup dispensers
Mr Cooper visibly cringes, and asks about the lemon wedges offered with beverages in bars, restaurants, and even on planes.
'The outside of the lemon doesn't get washed,' said Mr cannon. 'The wedges are cut well in advance for high volume, and they'll squeeze the lemon into the water, rub it around the edge of the glass.
'It's just moving bacteria from lemon into the water,' he said.
Squeezing bacteria: The lemon wedges offered with beverages in bars, restaurants, and even on planes are 'full of bacteria' which is then squeezed throughout a person's drink
Iceberg germs: Lettuce wedges are a top germ trap, because most of the time the inside is not washed, holding bacteria which grows at room temperature
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 76 million cases of food poisoning were recorded last year, and 3,000 were fatal.
Surprisingly, iceberg lettuce is a top germ trap.
'Restaurants let it sit at room
temperature because it's busy,' Mr Cannon said.
'They clean the outside of the lettuce, but if
you look at the inside, it's porous and it never gets cleaned.
Restaurant play areas: Erin Carr-Jordan (far right), executive director of Play Safe, revealed the meningitis and gonorrhea found at indoor playgrounds
you get your dressing, also sitting at room temperature, with bacteria growing on all of it. Then
you move the bacteria from the dressing onto the bacteria on lettuce; you go
home, and a few hours later you're sick.'
Mr Cooper also investigated the dangers found at restaurant indoor play areas for children.
After Erin Carr-Jordan took her toddler to a MacDonalds playground, she said she was shocked and appalled at the amount of old food, trash and excess dirt hiding in the playground's cracks and corners.
MacDonalds' playground: Ms Carr-Jordan she said she was shocked and appalled at the amount of old food, trash and excess dirt hiding in the playground's cracks and corners
She decided to swab the areas and run lab tests, which showed traces of meningitis and gonorrhea.
Now the executive director of Play Safe, the mother has taken her study to over 20 states and more than 70 locations
She explained: 'What we've found is beyond concern… the bacteria problems can cause illness, infection, and potentially death'.