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It’s common to see tubs of pre-sliced citrus fruits lining the bar, waiting to be garnished in all types of drinks over the course of the night. How about that jug of water with lots of lemon slices soaked in it for… who knows how long? There’s no doubt these are brilliant time-savers for the bars and restaurants, but it could be the downfall of your healthy lemon water.

Researchers at Clemson University have discovered that E. coli bacteria survives shockingly well during the storage and handling of lemons. Their study compared the uptake of bacteria on wet and dry lemons. While dry lemons absorbed 30 per cent of bacteria from hands and surfaces, wet lemons picked up 100 per cent of the germs every single time.

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And, it seems our go-to refreshing iced water is on the rocks, too (pun intended). The study found that 19.5 per cent of the bacteria on hands and 66.2 per cent of bacteria on scoops were transferred to the ice. That’s in addition to the risk of contaminated water being used to make the ice in the first place!

Unfortunately, the addition of alcohol doesn’t greatly reduce the risk of contamination, either. Another study, conducted by researchers at the University Of Texas Medical School, found that mixed alcoholic drinks such as scotch and soda have a 65-95 per cent survival rate of bacteria.

If you can handle it, pure tequila and pure scotch fare better. In both cases, bacteria had less than a 20 per cent of survival rate.


In a piece about their study, Professor of Food Science at Clemson, Paul Dawson says it’s a just a matter of being aware.

“As with most food safety issues, common sense and good sanitary practices win the day,” says Professor Dawson. “The chance of getting sick from your drink is slim, but it does happen… [so] it is good to be aware of restaurant sanitation ratings as well as how your food is handled.”

Text: The Australian Women’s Weekly / Photos: Pixabay

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