The serious reason you need to stop putting lemon wedges into your water

It’s likely the first thing your server will ask when you sit down for a restaurant meal: What would you like to drink? Well, there’s one incredibly popular drink that you might not want to order.

Whether you ask for it or not, a glass of water or Diet Coke usually comes with a slice of lemon. But be warned: Despite all the health benefits of lemon water, you might want to tell your server to leave the citrus out. Don’t miss these other 7 foods chefs never order at restaurants.

A 2007 study in the Journal of Environmental Health tested 76 lemons from 21 restaurants for germs and had some pretty freaky findings. Nearly 70 percent of the lemon slices had bacteria, viruses, and other microbes—including disease-causing E. coli. Even though lemon is a natural germ-killer, it can still get contaminated itself.

Never order this from a restaurant
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Never order this from a restaurant

Steamed Mussels 

"I know people love them and I'm meticulous about their storage and care if I serve them, but all it takes is one bad mussel and you're down for the count," said Chef Mary Dumont to Business Insider.

Kobe Beef

The size of the dish is never worth the price.

In 2012, Forbes contributor Larry Olmsted called Kob beef "Food's Biggest Scam." 

Wrote Olmsted, "The bad news is that the vast majority of what is advertised as Kobe beef continues to be counterfeit, and it remains very difficult for consumers to tell the difference - at least until they taste it..."

Soup Special of the Day 

Chefs and waiters took to Reddit to report on their top secrets. One topic the commentators unanimously agreed on? Soup specials, reported The Sun. It's normally comprised of "yesterday's leftovers."

“Soups, specials (when a product is about to go bad and not daily specials like half off pizza Tuesday)” wrote one commentator.

"Soup if it is late. That soup has been sitting on the warmer all day," explained another user. 

Seafood Specials 

Most restaurants get their fish orders on Thursday, so by the time the week has started again, the fish is probably old.

Said chef Siliva Barban to Insider, "It could be the most fresh and delicious special, but in some restaurants, specials are the way to clean up the fridge."

"I know how old most seafood is on Monday — about four to five days old," said Anthony Bourdain. He lists Tuesdays and Thursdays as the best days to order the dish.

Hollandaise Sauce 

According to Reddit, customers should never order dishes with Hollandaise sauce. 

"I don't trust hollandaise sauce to not come from a jacuzzi of aged bacterial growth," explained a commentator. 

'If you go to a popular brunch spot, mid morning in a Sunday, you probably don't need to worry about the sauce getting reused as they're moving through it very quickly. A diner that will serve Eggs Benedict at 4pm on a Thursday...yeah, that's probably gross," explained another. 

Raw Oysters

Explained, "Raw oysters can carry hepatitis A and a bacterium called Vibrio vulnificus, the latter of which can make you sick with vomiting and diarrhea. If you have certain conditions like diabetes, an infection can be fatal. The FDA notes that oysters from fancy restaurants or slathering hot sauce on the half shell doesn’t protect you. Your best bet is to order them cooked."  

Sword Fish

A user relayed his kitchen experience to the rest of the Reddit community, explaining swordfish is full of bacteria and parasites. 

Sword fish. I've seen a chef cutting up and cleaning one before and it's not pretty. Let's jut say a fish that size picks up a good deal of parasites during its lifetime, and they all start jumping ship at once when they figure out their host is dead..." the user explained. "Any smooth skin fish aka most of the pelagic species (swordfish, wahoo, mahi, sailfish) are more prone to parasites than large scaled fish like snapper or grouper."

Saucey Specials 

Be wary of dishes that are comprised mostly of sauces. 

Explained Reader's Digest, "To avoid running out of ingredients during the dinner rush, restaurants often order more food than they need. At the end of the day, surplus ingredients that haven't expired can turn into tomorrow’s specials, disguised with sauce."

Be especially wary if it has meat, chicken or seafood.

Cocktails with Milk

"Having been a bartender, never order a drink with milk. There are hardly any drinks with milk, meaning hardly any milk is used. That partially-used quart they have behind the bar may have been sitting there for QUITE a while," wrote one Reddit user.

Truffle Oil

Most times, dishes that list "truffle" as an ingredient are actually using truffle oil, which is made up of various chemicals. 

Explained chef James Birscione to Insider, "Chances are, the imitation truffle flavor will be offensively strong, and the 20 cents worth of truffle oil drizzled on your plate will result in a surge in menu price."


Another ABC investigation testing one lemon at 10 different restaurants found that half the wedges contained human waste. Gross! Check out these other gross things restaurants do to save money.

Lemon wedges are way more likely to have bacteria than the food you order on a plate because restaurant health standards tend to be less strict for garnishes. The ABC investigation noticed that restaurant workers often grabbed lemons without gloves or tongs. If they didn’t scrub their hands thoroughly after using the bathroom or touching another germ-ridden spot, there’s a good chance they could leave that bacteria on the lemon in your drink. Plus, restaurants might just rinse the skin instead of giving each fruit a good scrub.

But before you start giving servers the death glare when you see them carrying lemon water, know that the garnish won’t necessarily make you sick. The 2007 study authors admitted there haven’t been any diseases or outbreaks linked to lemons, and that still holds true today. And microbiology expert Philip Tierno, PhD, who led the ABC investigation, says your immune system will usually protect you from getting sick from lemon water. Before sitting down at a table, watch out for these red flags you’re about to eat at a bad restaurant.

“The usual course will probably result in no infection, but there is a possibility,” Dr. Tierno, clinical professor of microbiology and pathology at NYU Langone Medical Center, tells the Huffington Post when discussing his findings. “You can’t live in a bubble. Your immune system is usually pretty good.”

Still, if you’re concerned, just request your server bring your water or soda with no lemon. And if you can’t live without it, try squeezing in the juice then setting the wedge aside. Even though the juice has bacteria, at least you won’t have germs from the rind floating in your glass, too. Don’t skip the lemon water at home though, because drinking lemon water has incredible health benefits. Just make sure to wash it before putting it in your glass. [Source: Cosmopolitan]

You might also want to skip these pricey items:

The most overpriced foods at restaurants
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The most overpriced foods at restaurants

Omelet -- 566%

Plate IQ breaks down a Denver omelet made with ham, cheese, onions, and peppers and finds that the raw ingredients cost just $1.35, according to an ingredient cost analysis from Plate IQ. None of the items cost more than 50 cents, yet you’re likely paying about $9 for your breakfast, meaning you pay 566 percent more. The restaurant will likely charge $1 less for a vegetarian option made with spinach, mushrooms, and Brie cheese, bringing the markup down to 471 percent. Not that every supermarket item is cheap—don't miss these 14 grocery store items that are grossly overpriced.


Cheese pizza -- 580%

No ingredients in pizza crust cost more than 15 cents per pizza. The toppings add up a bit more, but a Margherita pizza would still cost the restaurant about $1.77, even though you’re shelling out closer to $12. Order a supreme pizza with all the works and the extra cost to fall on you could equate to a 636 percent markup.


Pizza toppings -- 636%

If your pizzeria charges a few bucks for meat or a couple dollars for veggies, that’s an extra 525 percent markup on each topping. Get all the works on a supreme pizza, and you could be looking at paying an extra 636 percent.


Cheese -- 417%

We get it—a hamburger won’t always do the trick when you’re craving a cheeseburger. But tacking $1.50 onto your check for a 29-cent slice of cheese is practically thievery. Don't miss these other 57 secrets your restaurant server isn't telling you.


Guacamole -- 285%

Yes, you know guac is extra—but did you realize just how much more? Making guacamole from scratch would end up costing 52 cents per serving. With a scoop of guacamole costing up to $2 at burrito joints, though, you’re getting served a 285 percent markup.


Pasta -- 809%

A serving of dry pasta only costs about 25 cents, and even with a homemade sauce, each serving will only cost about $1.43. Unless a restaurant is going through the labor of making its pasta from scratch, a $13 pasta dish is marked up more than 800 percent.


Coffee -- 825%

Using the brewing instructions from Starbucks ground coffee, you’ll end up paying about 20 cents per serving. Buy a tall brewed coffee from the store, and you’re paying 825 percent more than you would by making your own. To make the most of your cafe coffee, learn how to get free refills every time you go to Starbucks.


Soup -- 1,500%

Homemade chicken noodle soup only costs a restaurant about 30 cents to make, though a big bowl can cost $4.95, according to Forbes, making it one of the most overpriced things on a menu. If you’re concerned about “wasting” money on something you can make yourself, opt for thick soups like gumbo or chowder, which are more expensive to make but the same price for the customer, Forbes recommends. Just learn why you should never order these certain fish at restaurants—and what to get instead.


Potatoes -- 471%

A pound of potatoes costs about 70 cents, meaning an individual spud is worth about 35 cents. On a menu, though, you’ll end up paying $2 to get one as a side, meaning you’re paying 471 percent more than you would baking your own white potato. Don't miss these other foods that chefs never order at restaurants.


Wine -- 167%

A bottle priced at $15 at a wine shop might only cost the restaurant $10 on wholesale, but they’ll charge you $25 to $30. (That's particularly overpriced considering the best wine in the world costs just $10 retail.) Plus, paying $8 a glass—even with their bigger-than-normal pours—means you’re paying more than twice as much as you would at a BYOB restaurant. Oddly enough, you’ll often end up being less overcharged (though still, of course, paying more) for the most expensive bottles on the menu, because the biggest markups are on the cheapest bottles, according to Wine Enthusiast.


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