We’ve all at some point or another asked for a slice of lemon to put in our glass of water. But will it may it add a little more flavor to your drink, it comes with a price: your health.
A study in the Journal of Environmental Health, in which researchers swabbed the rinds and flesh of 76 lemons from 21 restaurants collected during 43 visits, found that an alarming 70 percent of them produced microbial growth, which is bacteria than can cause disease.
Samples were collected as soon as the water (or soda) was served, before drinking or touching, and while researchers couldn't pinpoint the exact origins of the microorganisms, they speculated that they may have come from a restaurant employee or raw meat or poultry contamination, among other sources.
"Although lemons have known antimicrobial properties, the results of our study indicate that a wide variety of microorganisms may survive on the flesh and the rind of a sliced lemon," the authors wrote in the report. "Restaurant patrons should be aware that lemon slices added to beverages may include potentially pathogenic microbes."
The good news is that you’re not in great risk if you happen to drink with a lemon in your beverage. Experts, however, caution there is a small but distinct risk factor. While it may not lead to infection, there’s still a possibility that you’re putting your health in danger.
However, it’s important to note that other research has found similar organisms all over restaurants, from ketchup bottles and salt and pepper shakers to menus and table surfaces. In other words, you should always dine at your own risk. You just never know where germs and bacteria may lie.