Thursday, March 5, 2009

Would You Like a Dash of MRSA With That Menu, Ma’am?

Recently I went out to eat at a very popular restaurant. I knew it was popular, because we waited over an hour for a table. Restaurants should avoid having their patrons wait this long, because it gives them time to look around and think.

I watched group after group of diners as they were shown to tables and handed menus. I watched as tables were cleared, wiped down, and menus collected and brought back. I saw one guy looking through his menu who coughed on it as I watched. And that got me to thinking…are menus ever cleaned?

Menus are handled by one person after another, by one server after another, and I have never, ever seen menus being cleaned. Silverware and dinnerware is washed after every use, and it would be unthinkable to reuse something. But menus…menus are touched and touched and touched, and heaven only knows what organisms live on them.

So, I decided to do a Google search on menu cleanliness. I found entry after entry describing gross scenes that have been witnessed by patrons in restaurants, such as seeing a woman sneeze into her menu and set it aside. I looked up cleaning lists for keeping restaurants ‘spic and span’. Out of the many items on these lists, menus are not mentioned. In fact the only mention of menus on these lists is contained in the “Main Menu” on the web pages.

It’s too late today, but tomorrow I’m calling the health department…I’m wondering if they have menu cleanliness guidelines.

Just imagine the viruses and bacteria that must be on menus! Does everyone handling a restaurant menu always wash their hands after using a rest room? I seriously doubt it. Is everyone perfectly healthy? Not possible.

I know I’ll never look at a restaurant menu the same way again. Fortunately, on the night that I made this realization, G2 had a bottle of Purell with her. As soon as we finished with the menu, we cleaned our hands.

More on this later. I'm not naming the restaurant, btw, because I would not want to single them out. I've eaten in a lot of restaurants, and I can't think of even one time that I've seen menus being cleaned or even wiped off between uses.

S2

8 comments:

Stephanie Frieze said...

AARP magazine has an article about superbugs that are making people sick and how they can linger on all sorts of surfaces. I'll bet they love menus. Our library has volunteers who use cleaner and wipes to clean off book dust-jackets and the cases for videos and CDs. I would think with the turnover in restaurants that cleaning of menus ought to be at least a daily thing, but I'll bet it's not. It would be a good idea if we all look the menu over, place our order and then excuse ourselves to do what our mother's always told us to do before we ate...wash our hands. I will not look at a restaurant menu in the same way again. Thank you for your post!

2Grandmas2 said...

Libraries...wow I bet they are even worse than restaurants!!! It is a good thing that "what doesn't make you sick, makes you stronger" is still the general rule of thumb. It would be sad to miss out on so many things out of fear of cantamination. Personally, I'd prefer to live life than hole up somewhere in fear of it. However, we should all be taking some precautions; even if it is to stay away from that newest and strongest of antibiotics when Penicillin will do the job.
G2

2Grandmas2 said...

Do you think I overstated the menu thing? I doubt that libraries are that big of an issue...most library books are lucky to be read twice a year.

My thinking about the menus is the frequency with which they are 'touched'
S2

2Grandmas2 said...

Nope; I think the idea is to post an alert or "hmmmmm." I do know of toddlers and babies chewing on library movies and cds (cases) as well. The kids area at a library I used to go to is ALWAYS crawling with rugrats. Those books have nice sturdy kid proof covers that are often handled by parents and siblings. Did we always wash our hands after changing diapers? I wish I could say that I did, but it wouldn't be true (at least not after I starting using disposables. So,no; no overstatement at all, just another of those interesting things that makes a person think. I liked it!
G2

2Grandmas2 said...

I think the moral of this is, wash your hands, wash your hands wash your hands...and don't leave home without Purell...
S2

Stephanie Frieze said...

Amen! Menus get handled all day and no everyone stays home when they are sick, especially if they are just coming down with something.

Here's a good story for you. Last summer I took my mother and a friend of hers out to dinner for the friend's birthday. While we were waiting for our dinners another waitress came in to work and stood behind a half wall between the kitchen and dinning room rating and spraying her frizzy hair. If it hadn't been the friend's birthday I would have stood up and shouted at her that there was a perfectly good bathroom just steps away. I wrote a blog about it. The restaurant is closed now 'though I doubt it is because of the blog.

Grandma Blog said...

Somebody once asked me if I ever noticed how the waitress/waiter/busboy is always wipeing the seats with the dishrag and then wipe the table with it. I had never noticed it before she pointed it out, but now I never fail to notice. Now it will be the same with the menu. LOL.
I think that sneezing into the menu is disgusting and harmful.

Stephanie Frieze said...

My grandson refers to that as "butt germs." :-)