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Readers Debate Coffee Cup Quandary

Q. I am sick and tired of reading about germs in restaurants or coffee shops. I think this is all much ado about nothing. If you are that worried about germs, you shouldn’t eat out.
I eat out a lot, in all types of restaurants, and the only thing that has ever made me sick was a mayonnaise sauce that wasn’t kept at the right temp.
Here’s the truth: a lot of people touch your food before it gets to your plate. It’s not a big deal.

A. You are right that it’s impossible to avoid germs. On the other hand, we should expect food and beverage handlers to be careful. Here’s another reader’s response:

“After reading your column about baristas palming coffee lids and transferring germs, I was reminded of an experience I had. I frequently bought coffee and kept getting impetigo [a staph or strep infection] on my upper lip.
“I racked my brain as to how or why I kept getting recurring infections after clearing them up with a prescription ointment. Finally it dawned on me that the barista was handling money and then my lid. I began ordering no lid (which is against company policy) or replacing it if they wouldn’t comply. I haven’t had any infections since.”

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About the Author
Terry Graedon, PhD, is a medical anthropologist and co-host of The People’s Pharmacy radio show, co-author of The People’s Pharmacy syndicated newspaper columns and numerous books, and co-founder of The People’s Pharmacy website. Terry taught in the Duke University School of Nursing and was an adjunct assistant professor in the Department of Anthropology. She is a Fellow of the Society of Applied Anthropology. Terry is one of the country's leading authorities on the science behind folk remedies..
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