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Any truth to this?

I generally don't have much time for these warning e-mails...but this was forwarded to me today. I would imagine most items are at risk for such a thing however.


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  1. Oh, man! Why did you share that with me? I love lemon in my water or iced tea, but now . . .

    Yet, it makes me think that if, at the restaurants they went to, had all these germs on lemons, and I think they were blaming not using tongs, then don't these places have more violations than just the lemons? If your hands are dirty, lemons are not the only things that would pass on the germs.

    1. If there were a serious danger from lemons, we'd all have been sick long ago. I think there's more danger in trying to live in a sterile environment than in having a slice of lemon in your drink.

      1 Reply
      1. re: chowser

        Absolutely. Germs are everywhere. The human body is adapted to function with a certain level of "filth" and too few bacteria are almost as bad as too many.

      2. Makes me want to stay away from ... health inspections.

        1. actually, what i find interesting is the researcher's assertion that the bacteria come from employees' hands. my suspicion has always been that restaurants don't bother to wash the exterior of the lemons before cutting and using them...after all the handling they've gone through to get there, you can be sure they're teeming with organisms BEFORE the restaurant employees pick them up.

          i scrub the outside of my citrus before using at home..and i stopped ordering slices in my drinks at restaurants a long time ago.

          but if you realy want to talk about a disturbing health concern, you should see the video about the glasses in hotel rooms.

          3 Replies
          1. re: goodhealthgourmet

            I've worked in a lot of restaurants & seen very, very few wash produce. It boggles the mind...

            1. re: meatn3

              Yeah, it seems they'll only wash certain "dirty" produce like spinach. That's why my mom always preferred us eating at home because she said that restaurants don't care as much about cleanliness and health as much as one would at home.

              Goodhealthgourmet, I have seen that hotel room glass video. Pretty gross. I've stayed at hotels twice since I've seen it and scrubbed the hell out of my glasses before I used them (and put my toothbrush away as well).

              1. re: meatn3

                My daughter works in a resto and tells me to NEVER eat the baked potato skin as it is never washed!!

            2. re: "if there were a serious danger from lemons we'd all be sick long ago".......well from some things i've read, most stomach bugs are mistakenly attributed to virus' but in fact it's stuff like this that we don't necessarily know about.

              germs are everywhere, and i know that if i constantly worried about everything, i'd probably never eat out or for that matter go anywhere. Just with alot of the stuff like the spinach or the strawberries etc....this wouldn't surprise me either.

              for that matter, i hate slapping my fruit and veg up on the supermarket conveyor belt after someone's just checked through all their steaks, chicken etc...and the stuff's probably leaked on the belt.

              1 Reply
              1. re: im_nomad

                I wouldn't be surprised if there more gastrointestinal issues were due to poor food handling than we suspect. However, I'd put it more to food handling (we see on these boards alone how many people partially cook meat to finish later, leave meat on counters all night, leave meat overnight or for days, leave things for over a week and eat it) than a slice of lemon. I'd worry more about those food handling issues that possible micro-organisms in lemon. There are far too many "scares" the media likes to put out. I read an interview with a former editor of a womens' magazine who said they encouraged scare stories to keep people buying their magazines so they can be "safe."

              2. How good a scientist is she?
                77% = 2 out of every 3?
                Her math's a little off....

                2 Replies
                1. re: MakingSense

                  I noticed that as well. But that was the reporter's comment, not the scientist's.

                  1. re: Morton the Mousse

                    These things always make you wonder though. When a reporter can make such a gross error on simple math, how good can the quality of their overall reporting be? Part of the job is taking a lot of material, evaluating it and putting it together to arrive at a conclusion. In this case, that there is a risk.
                    This story was fairly simple, but reporters frequently do much more complex stories than this. No science or math background?

                2. i'm not surprised. grossed out, yes. surprised, no.

                  1. The thing is, the germs are there, but at no point do they tell you how many germs need to be present in order to make you sick. The answer is rarely "one." Not to mention, the ice submersion can actually help kill certain germs.

                    The local news will trot out these stories every so often and everyone will panic for a few weeks until all goes back to normal. Well, unless you're an acquaintance of mine who still won't eat green onions or medium-rare beef due to news stories from a few years ago. (It is PAINFUL to wait for his "well-done" burger to get done at certain places; since most establishments want the food to come out at the same time, we suffer while his burger goes through the inferno of inedibility just so he can be assured he has no mad cow disease...)

                    If you were to stop and think about a million things, you'd probably never eat a thing.


                    8 Replies
                    1. re: Stephmo

                      " we suffer while his burger goes through the inferno of inedibility just so he can be assured he has no mad cow disease...)"

                      Hmm, I could be mistaken, but I didn't think heat would "kill" a prion, the causative agent of mad cow disease. Can anyone with more recent microbiologic training confirm?

                      Now E. coli, that's another bug altogether. Much more frequent, much more likely, very unpleasant, possibly deadly. I suspect more people die from E. coli than mad cow. I love my beef rare, and I don't mind risking food poisoning, but I do feel that it is reasonable to eat well-cooked burgers in most places, unless you know they have ground your beef from a single piece of meat (much less risk of microbial contamination if your meat comes from a single cow than if your beef has been ground from hundreds of cows). That being said, I have probably broken that rule a few times...

                      1. re: moh

                        Oh - I believe I forgot to mention the he's "insane" part. Yes, the well-done is for mad-cow. E-coli was a temporary switch over to chicken. I believe he hasn't had spinach since the outbreaks...or peanut butter. He only uses the broiler at home because grilling causes cancer...

                        Acquaintance is the key-word. He's not really invited to dine out anymore. Picky eaters are one thing (we have one of those in our lunch circle), but the whole, "you'll die if you don't make sure this and this and this and this" takes place was just humiliating. We couldn't even mention certain foods for fear of another lecture that he'd picked up from his mother. Basically, if they hear one thing horrible, it's fact.

                        I'm willing to risk the odds for a good meal and a lot less aggravation.


                        1. re: Stephmo

                          He's got it backwards: thorough cooking will kill E. coli, but not Mad Cow -- for that you'd have to give up beef.

                          1. re: Ruth Lafler

                            Yes, that is what I thought. Like I said, mad cow is pretty rare, I think the risk of getting mad cow is much lower than being in a fatal car accident.

                            That being said, Stephmo should invite his insane acquaintance out for burgers one more time, and watch his head implode when he is told that well-done beef does nothing to reduce your risk of mad cow...

                            1. re: moh

                              The risk of getting Mad Cow and the risk of being in a fatal car accident are nowhere near the same. Over 30,000 people are killed in car accidents every year. I'm not aware of *one* death from Mad Cow in the US. In other words, for all practical purposes the risk of getting Mad Cow is zero.


                              1. re: moh

                                The risk of mad cows disease is lower than slipping in your bathtub and dying. I'm thinking the stress he's under from worry is going to kill him faster than mad cows disease.

                        2. re: Stephmo

                          February is television sweeps month.

                          The ratings in this month determine what they can charge for advertising time until the next sweeps period.

                          The higher the ratings, the higher the rates.

                          If you notice, all the local news shows present their most hair raising stories at this time of year. It's for ratings.

                          Is it true? Probably a little... but with lots of breathless hype attached.

                          1. i've always wondered that myself after one incident where the waitress handed some lemon slices to me after I asked for lemon in my water.

                            I can't order lemons anymore either... whether or not the math is right... it's too gross to think about.

                            6 Replies
                            1. re: sleepycat

                              Do you think someone who is careless with lemons is somehow more careful with the rest of the food she's getting for you?

                              1. re: chowser

                                oh, unfortunately, that is a good point, chowser. otoh, i have not ever gotten sick from a resto meal ("issues" due to bad lettuce bits, yes, or too much oil on the kee mao noodles...) ;-Q

                                1. re: chowser

                                  Probably not. Point taken. In my defense, that happened when I was in my 20's. If that happened now I would probably just leave.

                                  1. re: chowser

                                    One point that might make people feel better - quite often the lemon cutting is a side job for the servers, not the cooks. Most servers have not been trained about food safety in the same manner a back of the house person (hopefully) has been. A lot of servers try to get a head start on their side jobs so they can get out asap after their last customer. This leads to starting the lemons, stopping to check on the table, perhaps clearing dirty dishes, going back to the lemons...Many restos don't have a handy sink for hand washing by the dish-pit, so a less than diligent server might omit that step...

                                    1. re: meatn3

                                      Ummm, I'm not sure this point makes me feel better about the lemons....

                                      1. re: moh

                                        I meant it might make you feel better about the rest of the food. Lemons cut by servers, other food prepped by non-servers who theoretically have more food safety training.

                                2. I guess that doesn't surprise me.
                                  I recently got one of those citrus juicers that looks like a giant garlic press. When I press my limes, it leaves a disgusting film of wax and dirt on the inside of the juicer which is really hard to clean. I have to wash the juicer in hot water and scrub for a few minutes to get the gunk off of the inside.
                                  Seems to me that the gunk is a billboard advertisement for the dirt, wax, bacteria, etc. that coats many of the fruits and veggies we buy at the store. Yuk.