Food & Nutrition

Dirty Restaurant Secrets the Kitchen Crew Won’t Tell You

What’s going on back there? Keep your budget and health in check with these insider secret restaurant tips from the other side of the kitchen doors.

Our waiters don’t wipe down the menus between customers…

iStock/Peeter Viisimaa

…or salt and pepper, or bottles of ketchup and mustard. It may come as no surprise to a germaphobe that restaurant kitchens are bacteria paradise.  But bugs dwell on tabletop items too. Good Morning America sent a team of scientists to swab the items on the tables of 12 restaurants, including the items mentioned above. They found that menus carried the most germs, with an average count of 185,000 bacteria—nearly 16 times that of the second most germ-infested item, pepper shakers. (Everyone looks at the menu. Not everyone loves pepper.) Next time you’re out, place your order. Then wash your hands before you eat. Make sure you know what the filthiest objects in your kitchen are.

We get sick, too

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You should definitely stay home if you have these signs you really do need a sick day, but that’s not always the reality for people with low-paying jobs. According to a recent study by The Food Chain Workers Alliance, 53 percent of food chain workers reported going to work when sick. “A lot of poor, transient people work in restaurants,” says Peter Francis, coauthor of industry exposé How to Burn Down the House, in Wall Street Journal’s SmartMoney. “They’re not giving up the $ 100 they’d make in a shift because they’re sick.” Keep an eye out for chefs sitting on the sidewalk smoking, sneezing, and coughing in their hands, says Chris Gesualdi, chef instructor at the Institute of Culinary Education. Here are the 6 things you won’t find in restaurants anymore.

Sometimes we touch more than food with our plastic gloves on

iStock/elenaleonova

Plastic gloves give cooks—and therefore, customers—a false sense of security. “Plastic gloves are more dangerous than bare hands,” says Howard Cannon, CEO of Restaurant Expert Witness and author of The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Starting a Restaurant. Michael Laiskonis, a New York pastry chef, agrees. “It’s easy to touch raw pork, then move onto touching another food item. Those very gloves become the vehicle for contamination when not changed often enough, or worse, when the same gloved hands that prepare food then go into a cash register.” Here are some  sneaky ways you can save money while dining out.

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