HUFFINGTON POST
11/19/2012 12:23 pm ET

The 10 Most Germ-Infested Areas In A Restaurant (VIDEO)

Keeping yourself from getting sick while dining out involves more than just looking up the health inspection records of local eateries and avoiding fish specials on Mondays. According to a recent report on '20/20' by ABC News correspondent Elisabeth Leamy -- embedded above -- you also have to know what parts of a restaurant you need to avoid.

Leamy recently went undercover at 10 restaurants in three states, armed with a cotton swab, which she used to sample various surfaces in the restaraurants. ABC then had Dr. Philip Tierno of NYU's microbiology lab test the swabs for bacterial life, in order to compare the germ counts in various parts of the restaurant. The results of the tests were surprising.

It turns out that the dirtiest parts of the average restaurant are the seats. Leamy speculated that the reason (other than the obvious proximity to grimy areas) is that most restaurants don't think to sanitize chairs, unlike more obviously dirty spots, like the bathroom.

Not that the bathrooms were immaculate. Below is the list of the 10 most germ-infested parts of the restaurants, according to the '20/20' investigation. Navigate over to the '20/20' website or watch the video above for in-depth explanations for each of the places.

1. Seats
2. Menus
3. Lemon Wedges
4. Salt and Pepper Shakers
5. Tables
6. Rims of Glasses
7. Bathroom Door Knobs
8. Bathroom Faucets
9. Ketchup Bottles
10. Salad Bar Tongs

For the record, though, most experts place the most germ-infested places in the country well outside the restaurant environments. One study put it in gas stations, on the handle of gas pumps. Almost makes you want to move to New Jersey!

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