If your waitress has long fingernails, get up from the tableand run. Cooks and waitpeople with long nails are morelikely to pass on food bugs such as E.coli. Artificial nailsare an especially nasty breeding ground for harmful bacteria.

Michael Doyle and his team at the University of Georgia puthamburger contaminated with E.coli under the nails ofvolunteers. The subjects then washed their hands thoroughlyand the researchers measured how much bacteria was left.

The found that volunteers who used nail brushes had thefewest bacteria left. However, if the volunteers had longfingernails, even the brushes weren?t effective (and whoever saw a nail brush in a restaurant bathroom?) People withshorter nails had much less bacteria.Doyle says that 90% of the bacteria on the hands can befound under the fingernails.

So don?t be reassured by bathroom signs that say ?EmployeesMust Wash Hands Before Returning to Work.? Check the lengthof their fingernails.

Even if your server?s nails are short, you still don?t knowwhat you?re eating. Find out by reading ?Eating in the Dark?by Kathleen Hart,click here.

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