Going out to eat is one of life’s great pleasures. However, your dining experience might be dampened by a poor menu choice. Ordering the wrong thing at a restaurant can result in everything from a disappointing dish to a bad case of food poisoning.
Here are a few foods you should never order at restaurants, according to experts.
Raw sprouts might be packed with vitamins, but they could also be brimming with bacteria.
Raw sprouts sound pretty healthy – these tender greens are crunchy, fresh, and full of nutrients. However, they might also be crawling with dangerous pathogens.
According to HuffPost, raw sprouts carry a higher risk of foodborne illness because they are grown indoors in warm, moist conditions in large quantities. One germy sprout can easily contaminate an entire batch, and rinsing them before eating won’t kill bacteria that have penetrated into the sprout seed itself.
In fact, one study found dangerous bacteria on 57% of tested commercially sold alfalfa, mung bean, and wheat seeds.
You’re basically throwing money away when you order truffle fries, experts say.
Sorry to disappoint you, but it turns out that truffle oil isn’t even made from actual truffles.
According to Serious Eats, the truffle oil that restaurants drizzle on dishes is actually made using a chemical called 2,4-Dithiapentane, which is either derived naturally or extracted from petroleum. That compound is mixed with olive oil to produce an oil that smells similar to truffles but doesn’t actually contain any.
If you’re looking for a taste of the real thing, you’re better off opting for dishes that contain whole or slivered truffles and skipping the imitation oil.
A drink with a fancy garnish might lead to a bout of food poisoning.
If you love an eye-catching cocktail sporting an extravagant garnish, you might be more at risk of catching something nasty.
“Most of the time, [garnishes] are kept at room temperature and are being handled continually by multiple individuals, including patrons if they are sitting at the bar,” microbiologist Jason Tetro told Global News.
Tetro warned that garnishes can carry everything from gastrointestinal diseases to mumps and that you should avoid putting them in your mouth.
Distressingly, one study found that ice and lemon slices frequently harbored E. coli. To be on the safe side, ask that your drink is left un-garnished.
Food from restaurant buffets might have been contaminated in the kitchen.
There’s nothing like an all-you-can-eat buffet when your stomach is rumbling or you have a large group to feed. However, buffet food comes with some risks.
“The real issue comes in the preparation of the food such that there may be a chance for cross-contamination,” professor of food sciences Keith Warriner told Global News.
Cross-contamination means that food may have come into contact with a potentially bacteria-laden item like raw chicken or eggs.
Warriner recommended opting for buffet food that has been thoroughly cooked or has never even entered the kitchen, such as a chocolate foundation. Consider passing on items like raw veggies or fruit.
Ordering mussels in a restaurant is risky business.
Unless you love playing Russian roulette with your seafood, you should probably avoid ordering mussels in restaurants.
“I never order mussels at restaurants,” Mary Dumont, chef and owner of Cultivar in Boston, previously told INSIDER. “I know people love them and I’m meticulous about their storage and care if I serve them, but all it takes is one bad mussel and you’re down for the count.”
Stick with seafood that doesn’t carry as high a risk of food poisoning such as cooked, smoked, or salted fish.
You should probably avoid oysters as well unless you can smell the sea.
Oysters are a delicious delicacy if prepared correctly, but these shellfish have the potential to become laden with bacteria if handled or stored improperly.
Cordon Bleu-trained chef Mark Nichols told Reader’s Digest that he wouldn’t recommend ordering oysters that were harvested more than 100 miles away from the restaurant.
In fact, in order to be safe to consume, oysters need to be alive when you eat them raw.
Avoid ordering freshly squeezed juice unless you see it prepared in front of you.
Unlike store-bought fruit juice that has been pasteurised during production, fresh fruit and vegetable juice may harbour harmful bacteria like Salmonella or E. coli.
Professor of food science Keith R. Schneider told Tonic that fresh, unpasteurized juice should never be consumed if you don’t know for sure when the juice was squeezed and how it was stored.
Bacteria from pressing machines or the hands that picked the fruit can contaminate juice and cause potentially life-threatening illnesses. The risk of getting sick also goes up if the fresh juice has been left unrefrigerated for more than two hours.
That soup of the day might not be so fresh.
Some restaurants use daily specials like soup du jour to use up ingredients that are nearing their expiration date.
“Ask what yesterday’s soup du jour was before today’s special. It may be the case that it’s the soup du month,” celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay advised Town & Country.
Hollandaise sauce can be a perfect breeding ground for bacteria.
Hollandaise sauce is brunch favourite. The silky yellow sauce is usually made from melted butter, water, lemon juice, seasonings, and raw egg yolks. The sauce is a prime candidate for bacterial contamination due to its use of undercooked eggs and its warm serving temperature.
In a piece for The Guardian, Anthony Bourdain cautioned diners against ordering hollandaise sauce.
“How about hollandaise sauce? Not for me. Bacteria love hollandaise. And nobody I know has ever made hollandaise to order.”
Experts say don’t shell out for a wagyu steak.
Wagyu beef comes from several breeds of Japanese cattle and is known for its tender texture and amazing flavour. It’s also known for being extremely pricey.
Celebrity chef Wolfgang Puck told The Telegraph that he actually wouldn’t bother ordering a full wagyu steak.
“The Japanese Wagyu is really fatty and you’re not meant to eat a lot of it. I wouldn’t eat steak like that.”
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