When you go out to eat, one of the first questions your waiter is likely to ask is, “What would you like to drink?” Like clockwork, your party will rattle off their go-to drink orders — and we would be willing to bet this is one of them: water with lemon.
Lemon water has been a popular beverage for decades, not just for its crisp, refreshing taste, but for the recently trendy idea that lemon water is super healthy for you.
Now, this notion isn’t totally wrong. Lemon water has been proven to help cleanse your system, get your skin looking gorgeous, and even keep your body at a healthy weight. It’s no wonder celebrities everywhere swear by this simple drink, what with these amazing benefits!
But while we would definitely encourage you to try drinking more lemon water during your day-to-day (especially in some hot water, first thing in the morning, which is supposed to start your body off on the right foot) there is one place where you might want to stick to regular H2O. It’s a little surprising, but a restaurant is the last place you want to enjoy a lemon in your water.
You’re probably thinking that’s crazy, remembering that there’s a least one person in your crew that orders a lemon water everywhere you go out to eat. Well, they may not know this downright disgusting fact about the drink they think is HELPING their system.
A 2007 study in the Journal of Environmental Health tested 76 lemons from 21 restaurants for germs and discovered nearly 70 percent of the lemon slices were covered in bacteria, viruses, and other microbes — including disease-causing E. coli. Another ABC investigation testing one lemon at 10 different restaurants found that half the wedges contained human waste, which we don’t even like thinking about.
So why are lemon wedges incredibly contaminated? As it turns out, restaurant health standards tend to be less strict for garnishes.
The ABC investigation noticed that restaurant workers often grabbed lemons without gloves or tongs. Say they didn’t scrub their hands thoroughly after using the bathroom or touching another germ-ridden spot…that means there’s a good chance they’re covering your lemon slice in bacteria before plopping it right in your ice water.
As nasty as these findings are, experts say that the average immune system is equipt to handle these kinds of germs. It doesn’t make it any less unpleasant to think about, but the odds of contracting some kind of infection or illness from a dirty lemon are slim.
Still, we wouldn’t blame you if you wanted to avoid ordering lemon waters from here on out.