Don’t Drink Out of an Uncovered Straw.

Don’t Drink Out of an Uncovered Straw.

Perhaps two thirds of the time when I dine out, drinks are served with straws that are uncovered. The FDA Food Code requires straws be served with covers. Why?

If an uncovered straw is kept in a container, no doubt it got there because someone took it from a box and put it in the open container for ease of distribution. As the straw is put in the container, bare hands usually touch it. I would be amazed if anyone used gloves in that process. They are then exposed to casual touch or coughing or sneezing. Finally before it makes it into your glass, a server touches it again. No one washes their hands before touching the straws. So you end up with whatever bacteria is on their hands on your straw and in your mouth. Next time you are dining out, why not ask the waiters to just put his/her hands in your mouth and bypass the straw. Yuk!

There is no way uncovered straws can remain clean. Likely each time the server reaches for a straw, he/she touches another straw. Your straw may have been touched multiple times.

Throw it away!

Be safe!

One more point on straws. Those little dipsticks the bar puts in your glass as a stir rod are just as contaminated. Don’t drink out of those.

Demand excellence. Don’t put your health at risk.


Author: Dr. Harlan Stueven, MD

Harlan Stueven M.D. is a Board-Certified Emergency physician with sub-specialization in Environmental Toxicology and Board Certification in Medical Toxicology. Starting his career in the USAF, he served as a Flight Surgeon and Environmental Health Consultant Physician where one of his duties was monitoring food safety. In his nearly 40-year practice, he treated a range of medical, surgical and poisoning emergencies. He has been a Medical Director and/or Chairman of several hospital-based Emergency Medicine Departments, served as the President of Emergency and Environmental Medicine consulting group, a physician group Chief Financial Officer and sat on many national, state and local committees. Dr. Stueven founded Dining Grades and the Dining Safety Alliance to improve food safety by increasing awareness of food borne illness and the formation of partnerships within the food industry. He is a consultant to the Wisconsin Retail Food Establishment Grading Work Group; a Co-investigator in a CDC funded “Evaluation of Health Department Restaurant Inspection Programs” project. He has presented at several National, State and Regional conferences on restaurant grading and food safety. He is an accomplished leader, medical researcher, a champion of process improvement, author, and national and international speaker.

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