The next time you’re in a restaurant and you order water with lemon, you might be drinking more than you bargained for. As a matter of fact, those lemon wedges you love could be covered in little, tiny, dirty organisms harmful for your body.
Researchers tested the rinds and flesh of 76 lemons from 21 restaurants collected during 43 visits and found that an incredible 70 percent of them produced microbial growth. The samples were collected as soon as the beverage (either soda or water) was served, before drinking or touching. While researchers couldn’t pinpoint the exact origins of the microorganisms, they speculated that they may have come from the 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 their report. “Restaurant patrons should be aware that lemon slices added to beverages may include potentially pathogenic microbes.”