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Why You Should Avoid Drinking Restaurant Water: Unveiling the Hidden Dangers

You should never drink the water in a restaurant. Here’s why

When you first sit down at a restaurant, is there anything more welcoming than a cool glass of water, a lemon wedge perched daintily on the rim? Unfortunately, when you down that goblet of restaurant tap water, you may be taking home a lot more than a to-go box of your leftover fettuccine. A 2013 investigation by The Mail on Sunday found that restaurant water can play host to millions of unwanted guests, from germs to life-threatening bacteria; the ice cubes alone can contain more bacteria than a toilet bowl (via the Daily Mail).
Drinking that water may mean spending more time than you’d like on the porcelain throne-especially if the restaurant gets its drinking water directly from the soda fountain. A 2010 study by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) found fecal contamination in nearly half of the restaurant soda fountains it tested in Roanoke, Virginia (via CNN), and another 2018 study found plenty of bacteria and mold in soda fountains. But hey, maybe your favorite bistro or coffee shop gets its water straight from the sink faucet anyway. Even if the restaurant takes extra care to make sure your drinking water is safe, here’s why you should still consider a strict B.Y.O.B. policy when it comes to your water.

All the reasons you should avoid restaurant water

As you place your mouth on the rim of your glass to take a nice, long sip of water, ask yourself this question: Do you know where your server’s hands have been? Restaurants train servers to handle glassware by the stem, not the rim, and, of course, to maintain proper hygiene. But to err is human, especially when it’s a busy lunch crowd. ABC News’ undercover test at 10 restaurants in three states found servers grabbing glasses right where we drink, and one sample taken found multiple strains of bacteria on the rim.
Another reason to avoid water at restaurants? That pretty lemon garnish hides an ugly secret: bacteria. Lots of it. A study in the Journal for Environmental Health found that nearly 70 percent of lemon wedges tested positive for microbial growth. “Restaurant patrons should be aware that lemon wedges added to beverages may contain potentially pathogenic microbes,” the study’s authors concluded.
Finally, location matters. We may be especially tempted to drink the restaurant water when we’re traveling, when we’re tired and parched from a long day of sightseeing, but not all local tap water is ideal to drink. Check the EPA website to see if the tap water where you live – or where you’re visiting – is safe to drink. Even if it gets a clean bill of health, bringing a reusable water bottle may be the smartest and safest way to go.
So the next time you go out to eat, think twice before reaching for that glass of water. While it may seem refreshing, it could be harboring bacteria and other contaminants. Considering the potential health risks, it’s best to adopt a policy of bringing your own water when dining out. By doing so, you can ensure the quality and safety of the water you consume, giving you peace of mind and a healthier dining experience.
– Mashed
– The Mail on Sunday
– Daily Mail
– Journal of Environmental Health


Is it safe to drink water in restaurants?

It’s generally not recommended to drink water at restaurants because of the potential for contamination. Several studies have shown that restaurant water can contain germs, bacteria, and even fecal contamination.

Can I get sick from drinking restaurant water?

Yes, drinking contaminated restaurant water can make you sick. Bacteria and other microbes in the water can cause gastrointestinal illness and other health problems.

What about ice cubes in restaurant drinks?

Ice cubes in restaurant drinks can be a significant source of bacteria. In some cases, they have been found to contain more bacteria than a toilet bowl. It’s a good idea to use caution when consuming ice from restaurants.

Are lemon wedges in restaurant water safe to consume?

Lemon wedges added to restaurant water may contain potentially harmful bacteria. Studies have shown that a significant percentage of lemon wedges tested positive for microbial growth. It’s best to be aware of this potential risk.

Should I drink tap water in restaurants when traveling?

It’s important to be careful about drinking tap water in restaurants, especially when traveling. Not all local tap water is safe to drink, and it can vary from place to place. It is recommended that you check the EPA website for information on tap water safety.

What can I do to make sure the water I drink in restaurants is safe?

To ensure the safety of the water you drink at restaurants, it’s a good idea to bring your own water in a reusable bottle. This gives you control over the quality and source of the water you drink and reduces the risk of contamination.

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