A report found that fine-dining restaurants have 132 times as much bacteria as fast-food chains

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Fred Prouser/Reuters

  • A report found that fine-dining chains are harboring 100 times more bacteria than fast-food chains.
  • While fast food has a bad reputation, there are reasons to believe it’s safer to eat than the food at many fancy restaurants.
  • Workers have less opportunities to spread bacteria, and corporate oversight cuts down on risks.

President Donald Trump seems to be right about one thing – fast-food locations are less likely to have bacteria than fine-dining restaurants, according to a new report.

Samples collected at three fast-food joints and three fine-dining establishments found the upscale locations to be a more likely host for germs, according to dinnerware supplier Restaurantware. The average bacteria colony count of the fast-food locations was a little over 20,000; the average colony count of the three fine-dining establishments was more than 2.7 million.

A McDonald's employee passes an order to a driver at a drive-through restaurant in Los Angeles.

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A McDonald’s employee passes an order to a driver at a drive-through restaurant in Los Angeles.
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Lucy Nicholson/Reuters

Six samples don’t make for a very complete study – but there are reasons to believe that fancy restaurants tend to have more bacteria than fast-food.

The Center for Science in the Public Interest has said in the past that McDonald’s and other fast-food chains “may be the safest paces to eat out,” Time reported.

Many of the most dangerous opportunities to spread bacteria happen when employees are handling food, especially raw food. Since fast-food chains often get food delivered frozen and then simply reheat or fry the meals, there’s less opportunity for bacteria to spread.

Chipotle, a rare chain where workers did handle raw food and uncooked vegetables, witnessed the dangers of more hands-on methods of food preparation during its E. coli outbreak in 2015.

Additionally, fast-food chains have stricter regulations than some independent restaurants do. Corporations have rules regarding everything from hand-washing to the specific temperature and time that food needs to be cooked.

There may not be much room for creativity – but there’s also little room for error.