Eating out is a great way to try new foods and enjoy the dining experience without having to grocery shop, slave over a hot stove, or clean up afterward. When you spend the money to eat out, you want to be sure you get good value for your investment. You also want to avoid choosing options that might make you sick. With that in mind, the following 15 items are foods you may want to avoid when eating in a restaurant.
15. Lemon Wedges on Drinks
Feel free to ask the bartender to skip the lemon or lime wedges on your beverages. Citrus fruit looks attractive on the rim of your glass and can add a splash of flavor. However, along with the tangy flavor, these fruits can deliver a dose of food poisoning if they have not been properly washed. The Cleveland Clinic reports that lemon and lime wedges may be contaminated with bacteria if restaurant employees do not wash their hands properly or wear gloves when handling them.
14. Fresh Squeezed Orange Juice
Add oranges to the list of fruits that may carry bacteria on the rind. Oranges need to be properly washed to remove all traces of bacteria from the rind. Otherwise, pathogens on the peel can make their way into freshly squeezed orange juice. When dining out, skip the expensive, freshly-squeezed orange juice and stick to pasteurized juices. Even at home, the FDA recommends scrubbing firm produce like oranges under running water with a stiff brush to clean away any bacteria.
13. Monday Fish
If you are looking for fresh fish, you may want to avoid ordering seafood at a restaurant on a Monday. Many restaurants do not receive orders on Sundays. Therefore, any seafood served up on a Monday may be fish that has been in the store since the previous week. This may hold especially true in land-locked regions that don’t have ready access to fresh fish. Furthermore, restaurants that do not specialize in seafood are less likely to have a steady supply of fresh fish available.
12. Hollandaise Sauce
Hollandaise sauce is made from butter, egg yolks, and an acid like lemon juice or vinegar. The presence of raw eggs in the recipe is what makes consuming hollandaise sauce a risky business. Consuming raw eggs carries a risk of contracting food poisoning from bacteria like Salmonella. Try whipping up your own hollandaise sauce using this recipe for Quick and Easy Hollandaise Sauce in the Microwave from Allrecipes. This recipe goes great on eggs Benedict, salmon, veggies, or a breakfast sandwich.
11. The Salad Bar
When watching your waistline, nothing beats a salad. Salad bars are appealing for their wide varieties of leafy greens and tempting toppings. However, the salad bar may also be a haven for bacteria. Improperly washed salad greens and veggies carry their own risk. Add to that countless numbers of people streaming past, touching utensils, scratching their noses, and coughing into the platters. This raises the risk of contracting a foodborne illness. If a salad is what you crave, stick to the ones prepared by the chef in the kitchen, away from the germs of other diners.
10. Raw Oysters
Oysters are delicious. However, if you want to avoid food poisoning, you may want to avoid consuming this delicacy. Vibrio bacteria live in the same waters that oysters inhabit. The CDC points out that oysters pull seawater in through their gills in order to filter their food. This means that Vibrio bacteria can enter the tissues of the oyster. When you consume uncooked oysters, you may ingest bacteria as well.
9. Raw Sprouts
Skip the fancy salads, sandwiches, or entrees that sport raw sprouts. Sprouts carry a risk of bacteria, which is difficult to wash away. According to government Food Safety information, those at greatest risk of illness from infected sprouts are the very young, the very old, those with weak immune systems, and pregnant women.
You may want to tell your waiter to hold the ice in your beverage. Unfortunately, ice machines may not get a thorough cleaning and can harbor bacteria and pathogens. Ice machines found in fast food restaurants, upscale restaurants, and hospital kitchens are all at risk of contamination. Food Safety Magazine reports that better practices need to be put into place to prevent spreading illness through unsanitary ice-making equipment.Related: 9 of the Unhealthiest Foods at Your Neighborhood Barbecue
7. Chicken Parmesan
If you are looking for fresh chicken Parmesan, a restaurant may not be the best place to find it. Rumor has it that your chicken Parmesan may not be freshly prepared, baked, and served to your table. Some restaurants keep frozen portions of chicken Parmesan on hand and simply reheat them as needed. For truly fresh chicken Parmesan, try baking up Bobby Flay’s Chicken Parmigiana at home.
6. The Daily Specials
It seems like an entrée with the word “special” in it should be, well, unique. However, the chef’s special is often an item that the chef has invented in order to use up leftover ingredients the restaurant has on hand. Of course, you can feel free to disregard this advice if the listed special is made up of ingredients you love mixed into a dish that sounds like exactly what you have been craving.
5. Bar Snacks
Avoid the temptation to dip into the bowl of peanuts or pretzels atop the restaurant bar. Untold numbers of people may have helped themselves to these snacks before you, increasing the risk of contamination. If you need something to nibble with your pre-dinner drink, order an appetizer off the menu.Related: Watch Out for These 12 Surprising Foods That Can Cause Food Poisoning
4. Ice Cream
Ice cream is a refreshing treat, but restaurant ice cream is often no different from the fare you find in your grocery store freezer. Skip the hefty restaurant price tag and pick up a pint on your way home. Better yet, if you’ve saved room for dessert, order something decadent that you can’t just easily whip up at home.
3. Wedge Salad
If you are going to pay restaurant prices, you might want to order something that takes a little creativity. A wedge salad doesn’t require much more effort than just plopping a wedge of lettuce on a plate and adding a garnish. Take advantage of the opportunity to have someone create a dining masterpiece for you and save the boring slab of lettuce for home.
2. Well-Done Meat
Sure, you want to avoid food poisoning. But ordering a serving of well-done meat may provide you with a tasteless, dried-out husk of charred meat. Of course, if this is what your heart desires, please disregard. However, to truly get your money’s worth and enjoy the juicy flavor, order your meat cooked to medium-rare.
Edamame is an appetizer, snack, or side dish that is easy to prepare. All you need to do is lightly steam this tasty soybean treat and sprinkle it with a little salt. Restaurants may charge a hefty price for this simple, inexpensive item. Make edamame at home and allow the restaurant chef to treat you to a more complicated appetizer for your money.Related: 11 Foods That May Make You Dumber