Thursday, December 30, 2010

Good Morning America: Menus are Dangerous!

Menus are very often constructed to entice the consumer into making a purchase of an item that will add to the final bill, giving the restaurant a larger profit. That is the reason for photos of items that give the highest revenue to the restaurant. That is the reason for all the adjectives used to elevate the simple entree into a culinary wonder for the menu reader. 

Lets say you walk into a restaurant with the idea of having some  breakfast and you are thinking of getting a simple omelet.  You might find this on the menu:
  •   ham and cheese omelet with toast.
Or you might find this:
  • a generous thick slice of honey-baked country ham with blend of three artisan cheeses folded into a fluffy farm-fresh three egg omelet fragrant with fresh herbs and served with freshly baked-this-morning sour-dough bread toasted to perfection, served with its own mini crock of fresh drawn butter. 

Which description has you salivating? Between the descriptions, the photos and your appetite at that moment, anyone who is struggling to make it past breakfast without blowing their food plan for that day can find themselves struggling. With the first description it might be easier to simply ask for the omelet without the cheese and skip the toast. With the second description it means refusing 3 artisan cheeses and  freshly baked bread with its own mini crock of butter. Oh, doesn't the mini crock of butter sound so cute!

Well, just one piece of sour dough bread with half the average mini crock of butter will add up to over 400 calories and more than 30 grams of fat - and that is before adding on the eggs, cheese and ham. 

In my journey I have developed a habit of barely skimming the menu. In the case of ordering breakfast out I do not even look at the menu, choosing instead to tell the server what I would like and seeing if it is possible with what the restaurant has to offer. Still, I am aware that he menu can be dangerous when I am too hungry or emotionally out of whack at the moment. Until today I thought my appetites and food addiction were the only reason I needed to be aware of the dangers of menus. Until today. . . . 

Today Good Morning America did a report on which table top item generally found in every American restaurant has the most bacteria, coliforms (including fecal matter) and germs. Is it the sugar, salt, pepper, ketchup, mustard or the menu. They checked 12 restaurants in three states, taking swabs from the sugar container, salt and pepper shakers, ketchup and mustard bottles and the menus - paper, laminated, in folder sleeves - all types. 

The worse contaminated table item by far was the menus. They found 185,000 bacteria on the average menu. The second worse item was the pepper shaker with 11,600 organisms. Everyone touches the menu. Have you ever found a menu to be sticky? Have you ever seen someone sneeze into a menu? They go from server to customer to server to customer over and over again. 

In the report it was stated that the bacteria on a menu is 100 times more bacteria than on the average toilet seat. Most of the menu bacteria is not harmful but some can cause staff infections, respiratory infections, etc. The scientist suggest washing your hands after reading the menu in any restaurant. 

I am not normally a germ-a-phobic but now I think I will get up and wash my hands anytime I touch a menu in the future. If I could only wash the photos and descriptions out of my brain as easily as the germs off my fingers it would make keeping the pounds off much easier . . . but since that is not possible I guess I will just keep working at making the right choices - which I am sad to say, will never include a mini crock of butter! 

1 comment:

Lauren said...

you know, a mini crock just sounds adorable, forget the butter. i wanna make a baby souffle in it. LOL

i don't know how to make souffle.