Fast food restaurants may be cleaner than fine dining establishments, according to a new report from food service supply company Restaurantware. The company performed bacteria colony counts at three restaurants in each category, finding that upscale restaurants had up to 12,000 times the number of bacteria colonies as fast food restaurants and an average of 132 times the amount.
The cleanest of all of the restaurants tested was a fast food chicken restaurant, where only 300 bacteria colonies were found, as compared to nearly 3,000 at a taco restaurant and nearly 60,000 at a burger joint. The dirtiest high-end establishment was an Italian restaurant with 3.7 million bacteria colonies.
“It’s easy to assume that a fast food restaurant would have the worst hygiene of the bunch, but their strict daily cleanup schedule, rigorous corporate standards, and regular inspections ensure that their equipment is kept clean and their restaurants are germ-free,” the company explained in a report detailing its findings.
“More expensive restaurants have to abide by the same exacting regulations, but also have to contend with washing dishes and removing those germs, a step fast food restaurants avoid by utilizing disposable utensils.”
The bacteria found in fast food restaurants were mainly confined to the bathrooms, whereas in high-end restaurants, the germ distribution was divided between bathrooms and condiments.
The restaurant categories were also divided based on the types of bacteria found: higher-class establishments had slightly more Bacillus bacteria than gram positive cocci, whereas fast food restaurants had an overwhelming majority of gram positive cocci. Bacillus bacteria are linked to food poisoning symptoms including nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea; gram positive cocci are responsible for staph infections.
News outlets including the Sun and Fox News have been quick to draw a connection between the results of the reports and President Donald Trump’s reasoning for his penchant for fast food, citing a statement made by the President at a Republican Presidential Town Hall meeting last year to this effect.
"I like cleanliness, and I think you’re better off going [to fast food restaurants] than, maybe, someplace that you have no idea where the food’s coming from," he said. "It’s a certain standard."
The report also examined the bacteria colony counts of three home kitchens, finding them overwhelmingly dirtier than either type of restaurant, with a range of between 6 and 9 million bacteria colonies per home tested, as compared to between 1 and 3.7 million colonies in high-end restaurants.
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