How Clean is a Restaurant Menu? A Study of Bacterial Transfer to and from Restaurant Menus
Ibtehal Alsallaiy, Paul Dawson and Inyee Han
Food Technology (College of Agriculture, Forestry and Life Sciences)
Some non-food contact surfaces such as restaurant menus are not routinely evaluated for microbial contamination thus can be a potential contamination risk. The main objectives of this study were to detect bacteria on restaurant menus, test the rate of bacteria transfer from menus to consumers and determine the survival rate of bacteria on the menu surface. Samples collected from local restaurants’ menus and analyzed for total aerobic organisms and Staphylococcus spp, indicated that menus often harbored detectable levels of bacteria. The average transfer rate was 11.17%, with a high variability between subjects (10.45% standard deviation). Survival rate of bacteria was 1.40% after 24 hrs and 1.34% after 48 hrs, respectively. These results indicate bacteria can transfer from a menu to the consumer’s hands and that bacteria can survive on menus even after 48 hrs. This study will inform the general public and restaurant personnel about the importance of menu hygiene. Future research may include standard sanitation procedures to reduce possible cross contamination from menus.