Travelers' diarrhea is the scourge of travelers to locales where hygiene is poor.
Researchers examined tabletop hot sauces in restaurants to see if they were contaminated with Escherichia coli bacteria.
They found that 41 of 71 sauces in 36 popular tourist restaurants in Guadalajara, Mexico, and 10 of 25 sauces from 12 popular Mexican-style, non-chain restaurants in Houston, Texas, USA, were contaminated.
| Guacamole was most frequently contaminated with E. coli.
| Annals of Internal Medicine |
Since E. coli is a common cause of "travelers' diarrhea," the findings suggest that eating contaminated hot sauces may lead to travelers' diarrhea.
The sauces from Guadalajara more frequently contained E. coli contaminants. The median level of contamination was more than 1000 times greater than that of the sauces from Houston.
It was found that, in both cities, guacamole was more frequently contaminated than green sauces or red sauces.
In Guadalajara, the sauces were usually sitting at room temperature on the restaurant table.
In Houston, the servers brought all the sauces to the table after researchers were seated. Furthermore, the sauces were cool, indicating that they probably had been refrigerated.