Inside Edition Investigation Discovers That Some New York City Restaurants’ Cutlery and Dishware Are Containing Bacteria


It’s possible that restaurants are reviving their business, so it’s time for you to think about how clean your plates and dishes really are.

Most restaurants use large industrial dishwashers, which clean and sanitize dirty dishes and silverware with scalding hot water and commercial grade soap. After the process is completed, all items are cleaned and sterilized. 

What happens between now and the time these silverware and dishes reach your table?

Cross contamination is a concern. All those dishes and utensils are likely to have been handled multiple times by the time the food reaches your table.

Inside Edition swabbed dishes from New York City restaurants, and sent the samples to IEH Laboratories in Seattle.

The results came in four days later.

“Wow, it was pretty bad. We’re not talking about just a little bacteria, we’re talking about a lot,” said Dr. Susan Whittier, clinical microbiologist at Columbia University, who reviewed the lab’s report.

“I actually have a plate that I can show you really up close, if you want to see it. It has millions and millions of bacteria,”Whittier stated.

A cup we tested at the Applebee’s located in the heart of Times Square had a whopping bacteria count of 2.4 billion. A plate of mozzarella sticks contained a bacteria count that was 2.2 billion.

Whittier states that this is a worrying amount of bacteria and could possibly make you sick.

Also, the samples we obtained from two other restaurants were positive for E. Coli.

“Four of the samples had millions of bacteria that you normally would find in fecal matter or poop,”Whittier stated.

At Del Frisco’s steakhouse in Rockefeller Center, the plate and glass came back clean, but the fork tested positive for E. Coli.

Right down the street at Olive Garden, the lab detected E. coli growing on the rim of their “never-ending”Salad bowl

“It’s disgusting, because you think you’re going to a restaurant to eat and it’s going to be cleanly and it’s not,” one customer said.

Whittier states that cross contamination is a problem. The bottom line is that restaurant workers need to be more thorough in washing their hands.

“Obviously, you don’t want somebody else’s bacteria on a fork that you are going to be using or a plate that you’re eating off,”Whittier stated.

Olive Garden didn’t respond to Inside Edition’s Report, but Applebees stated that they have an “A” grade from the health department and they addressed what they call an “isolated case.”

“A clean, well-run restaurant is what our guests deserve and expect,” Kevin Carroll, chief operations officer at Applebee’s Neighborhood Grill + Bar, said in a statement. “The franchisee who owns and operates this restaurant maintains an ‘A’ grade with the NYC Health Department for this restaurant and all of their restaurants, as well as top results from the brand’s third-party food safety evaluation and consulting partners. Any issues arising from this incident were immediately rectified by the franchisee. At Applebee’s the health and safety of our guests and team members remains our top priority, and we are committed to the highest levels of food safety and sanitation.”

Del Frisco said they were going to run their own version of our test, but have also retrained their employees. 

“It is important to Del Frisco’s Grille that the highest safety measures related to the quality of food, cleanliness and overall experience are followed. We will be performing the same test to ensure this event does not occur again as well as the accuracy of your test which no one witnessed. We are retraining all our employees and adding additional procedures to ensure that the highest measures of sanitation and safety are always maintained for our guests,”A spokesperson for the restaurant stated.

Both restaurants claim they adhere to the highest safety standards.