Shocking Restaurant Secrets

When you're dining out, you shouldn't have to worry about putting your health at risk. But certain restaurants and food choices could be doing just that. Learn the secrets restaurants keep that could be making you sick – and the small changes you can make to protect yourself.

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From the most frequent food offenders to the restaurant violations threatening your health, learn the confidential kitchen secrets that could make you sick.

Secret: Restaurant lemons are often as dirty as the floor.

Most restaurants never wash their lemons. They stay in the box that they were shipped in until they end up on your plate. In an independent test, Dr. Oz discovered five out of five lemons from five different restaurants were coated with germs including mold, bacteria, staph and Candida yeast – the type found in the mouth and vagina.

Solution: Always order your lemons on the side and squeeze them into your drink or onto your plate yourself. Make sure that the juice doesn’t touch the germy lemon rind.

Secret: A dirty bathroom means a dirty kitchen.

Although it may seem counterintuitive to associate a restaurant’s bathroom with their kitchen, these two places often share the same level of cleanliness. If a restaurant can’t be bothered to keep the toilets and sinks clean, then imagine what their refrigeration and workspaces look like in the kitchen.

Solution: Do not eat at a restaurant where the bathroom trashcan is more than half full. This means the bathrooms are not being regularly monitored and cleaned.

Secret: Buffets are breeding grounds for bacteria.

Part of the danger of buffets is that the food sits out at inconsistent temperatures. The food on the bottom is burnt, while the food on the top is too cold. Additionally, you don’t always get real ingredients at buffets. A recent test from West Virginia University concluded that scrambled eggs from two restaurant buffets were not made from real eggs. Instead, the samples were made from liquid egg substitutes containing less protein and more water.

Solution: If you want to eat at a buffet, go when it first opens to ensure the highest quality of freshness. For for lunch, aim for noon, and for dinner, go at 5 p.m.