The objectives of this study were to detect bacteria on restaurant menus, to determine the bacterial transfer from menus to consumers' hands and to determine the survival of bacteria on menu surfaces. Local restaurant menus were sampled at different periods of operation. The average total plate count ( TPC ) was 28 (0–210) cfu /15 cm ² menu sampling area during “busy” periods and 15 (0–85) cfu /15 cm ² menu sampling area during “less busy” periods. The staphylococcal count averaged 6 (0–83) cfu /15 cm ² during busy periods and 2 (0–25) cfu /15 cm ² menu sampling area during less busy periods. E scherichia coli was transferred to menus at 11.17% of the hand population with a high variability between subjects (10.45% standard deviation). Survival of bacteria in menus was 1.40% after 24 h and 1.34% after 48 h, respectively. Bacterial populations found on randomly sampled menus were low; however, bacteria survived and were transferred from menus to a consumer's hands.
While many food‐contact surfaces are routinely cleaned and sanitized to minimize the presence of contamination, some surfaces such as restaurant menus are not and thus may be a potential contamination risk. The current study revealed that in the relatively small sample size of menus examined, there were some that were contaminated. Furthermore, there was measurable transfer of bacteria present on menus to consumer's hands and bacteria survived on menus at least 2 days. Therefore, to reduce the chance of illness from menus that are touched by many different people, especially food service workers, menus may be considered to be included as part of a standard sanitation operating procedure.