The pepper shaker on your restaurant table is really gross

Gwen Ihnat, The Takeout

Sure, nearly everything is a gross, germy wasteland. Like when you go to the corner diner, you can pray that the laminated menus have been wiped off recently, but who really knows? As Reader’s Digest points out, your troubles don’t end there. Many of those attractive adds on your table—sugar, ketchup, butter packets—may also be swarming with germs. Especially… the pepper shaker.

 According to a 2010 study by ABC News, the pepper shaker came in second as the most disgusting thing on your table, with a bacterial count of 11,800 organisms—which I guess sounds like a lot? (It doesn’t beat menus, which according to this study is 10 times germier.) Jonas Sickler, director of operations at, explains to Reader’s Digest: “Most salt and pepper shakers are only wiped down if they appear dirty, and even then, only with a damp cloth that bussers keep in their pockets… While some restaurants collect, refill, and wipe down shakers, they are rarely properly emptied and sanitized.”