I love lemons and limes. Those tangy, mouth-puckering fruits get placed in everything from my salads to that ice-cold glass of water. The first thing I ask for, when eating out, is a glass of ice water (or Perrier) with a slice of lemon or lime. What's a glass of cold water without some lemon?! But I have to admit that after watching the video below, I do think twice about requesting it now.
According to microbiologist Anne LaGrange Loving, a professor at Passaic Community College in New Jersey, those slices of lemon we get at eateries contain everything from fecal bacteria to micro-organisms that cause staph infection. After noticing a waitress' fingers dip into her soda, along with her lemon, Loving was inspired to conduct a study. Of the 76 lemons (from 21 New Jersey restaurants) that were examined, a whopping 77% (or 2 out of 3) had some form of bacteria. One had a grand total of 6 different micro-organisms, 3 of which are found in fecal matter. Though some had nasties only on either the rind or the pulp, 29% had them on both.
Although it's probably nothing too much to worry about, those with compromised immune systems should always be careful.
AT HOME: simply scrub the lemon (or lime) in soapy water before use, and make sure you slice the lemons using a clean cutting board, knife and clean hands.
AWAY FROM HOME: Ask how the restaurant handles their lemon slicing, although it's probably simpler to just say no. But, for those who need that extra zip in their water and don't want to risk getting sick from a contaminated lemon slice, there's a product you can buy at truelemon.com. It's an all-natural, crystallized lemon and lime product that comes in packets, or a shaker. Although I haven't tried it yet, it sounds like an interesting alternative.