December 2007, Volume 7; Number 5, Page 18; http://www. neha. org Forty-three visits to twenty-one different restaurants show bacteria on an item we often request (and sometimes don’t) to garnish our water, soda, tea or alcoholic beverages. The study conducted, investigated whether lemon slices used in restaurants as drink garnishes contain microbial contamination that may be ingested by restaurant patrons. Seventy-six lemons were tested; two samples were collected as soon as the drink was served, before the patron took a sip or touched the lemon.
One sample was taken from the rind of the fruit, and the other was taken from the flesh. Although only water and soda was used for this study, think about all the times you have seen a lemon slice used as a garnish. The study showed that fifty-three of the lemons were contaminated with twenty-five different species of microbial growth on the rind, flesh, or both. Some of the bacteria found are known to come from human fecal matter or raw-meat or poultry contamination; however there is no way to pinpoint if this came from employees of the restaurants, or if they were contaminated before they even arrived.
Yeast was also found on the samples, which could have originated from oral, fecal, or vaginal secretions that were on the fingertips of an employee or other food handler. Studies show that if you are generally healthy, you probably won’t be affected by the bacteria found since we come in contact with germs on a daily basis; however you should still be aware because of the potential spread of pathogenic microbes. I chose this article because I used to work in the food/beverage industry and we never washed a lemon peel before slicing them and serving them to our customers.
I always thought this was unsanitary; however I was told we simply didn’t have the time to wash them. When I first read this article and saw how the information was broken down and showed how more than one bacteria was found on the same lemon, it made me rethink ever wanting a lemon, olive, or cherry garnish again. I always share this information with my friends when I notice them ordering water with lemon, some take heed, some don’t care. Either way, I think it’s important to spread the word on something that could possibly make you sick.