Turns Out You Might Want To Think Twice About Putting Lemon Wedges In Your Beverages

When life hands you lemons… throw them out and live a wholesome, germ-free life instead?

Back in 2007, a study published in the Journal of Environmental Health (and recently unearthed and thrust back into the spotlight by ELLE) suggests that if you are somebody who garnishes your drink with lemon slices, you might be consuming something rife with germs.

“The microbes found on the lemon samples in our investigation all have the potential to cause infectious diseases at various body sites, although the likelihood was not determined in this study,” the researchers wrote at the time. “Restaurant patrons should be aware that lemon slices added to beverages may include potentially pathogenic microbes.”

It’s true. Lemons that are used to infuse water, garnish cocktails, or chase your shot of late-night tequila are breeding grounds for bacteria, thanks in no small part to common and totally avoidable factors, such as ineffective hand washing.

Philip Tierno, a clinical professor of microbiology and pathology at New York University School of Medicine and author of The Secret Life of Germs, said to Munchies: “People are touching the lemon in your glass, handling it, cutting it, placing it in a container or a cup, or a glass; and then picking up those slices at a later point in time and dropping them into a drink and putting them on the rim of a glass. You can easily see how those lemon slices and lemon wedges can be contaminated.”

Listen: this study has been out since 2007. If you consider yourself an average bar-goer, or just enjoy the lift a wedge of lemon in your drink brings to your palate, you probably have indulged in your fair share of lemon garnishes since 2007. While it’s better to be aware of the potentially harmful side-effects lemons can bring, we suggest you pick your battles.

If your immune system isn’t notably weak, and if you do not have a chronic health condition: go ahead. Treat yourself. Order that lemon.