Viral Video Shows Just How Much Bacteria Can Be Found on Restaurant Cutlery

A series of viral videos has revealed just how much bacteria is found on restaurant silverware—and many people were pleasantly surprised.

Sam Barefoot, who calls himself a "public health specialist," gained over 9 million views on his trial of restaurant cutlery. Barefoot used an at-home testing kit to trace just how much bacteria he could find on silverware given to him while dining, though he made sure to omit any location names.

Frequent diners were left relieved by the surprising amount of bacteria on the cutlery—hardly anything.

"I'm at a restaurant and we are going to swab and grow the bacteria of this silverware. We're going to see how dirty it really is," said Barefoot.

He swabbed the cutlery, handed to him in a clean napkin, before putting it into a decontaminator. Once home, he applied the swab to a petri dish by rubbing it all over and then capping the dish.

There was some criticism that he didn't apply the swab well enough, but Barefoot claimed to have done it off camera, as he found it difficult filming at the same time.

@sam_barefoot

Reply to @brisappersin Comment what to swab next!!! #science #scienceismagic #microscope #fyp #foryou #bacteria

♬ Paradise - Ikson

The petri dish was left in an incubator for 48 hours at 37 degrees celsius. To the surprise of many, few bacteria were found other than two "tiny white specks. "

"Those are really just normal bacteria," confirmed Barefoot.

Viewers were left pleasantly surprised by the findings, with one user writing: "Well that's comforting."

"This is good. Why am I disappointed," joked another.

Restaurant workers voiced their familiarity with cleaning processes, explaining that they weren't surprised over the result: "In the restaurant industry, especially post-covid we double wash our silverware. The most you usually get is water spots."

Scientific Tests

Barefoot isn't the only one to put restaurant silverware to the test. In 2012, researchers at Ohio State University Center for Clinical and Translational Science applied murine norovirus, escherichia coli and listeria innocua to cutlery before hand washing one load and machine washing another.

Both washing methods reduced the escherichia coli and listeria innocua, though machine washing was more effective, but norovirus particles survived both washes. This isn't always the fault of a restaurant, the study showed, as food is able to protect bacteria and viruses from cleaning products, especially dairy food like that used in the study.

""The idea that we're going to 'kill' things [bacteria and/or viruses] is probably a little far-fetched," Professor Donna Duberg told Women's Health. "What we're doing is trying to reduce the number of germs to a level that our bodies can handle—one we can clear with our defense system."