Dirty Lemons in Region 8?

JONESBORO, AR (KAIT) -- Nope, this isn't a science experiment for school, but we are trying to find out if some of Region 8's lemon wedges will make the grade.

According to a story on the Internet website healthinspections.com., fecal bacteria is just one unexpected thing someone might find on a lemon in some restaurants around the country.

So we wanted to check out some of our region's wedges.

Region 8's Lauren Payne drove around Region 8 collecting lemon samples from area restaurants--both sit down and drive thru.

She just asked for a drink with lemon, and with a toothpick, got the lemon out of the drink and put it in a zip lock sack and put it in a  cooler full of ice.

We took the samples to ASU's Dr. David Gilmore.

He's going to begin the process of telling us what, if anything, is growing on the lemons.

We do need to mention Dr. Gilmore tested the plastic bags like the ones we used to put the lemons in--he found nothing growing on them.

We swabbed these lemons and put the 12 samples in an incubator and left them for nearly 24 hours, enough time for bacteria to grow and maybe even something else.

"There's some very dark colonies here--very suspicious of Ecoli. It could be the kind of Ecoli that does make you sick. Or it could just be the employee didn't wash his hands and he may have something else that he put on the lemons that could make you sick--so either way.....," said Dr. Gilmore.

So here's the bad news, out of these 12 samples, Dr. Gilmore says he found 2 that he thinks look suspicious of Ecoli.

Now to bacteria on our lemons.....

"The one that is most interesting is the one that has so much bacteria.  Wherever this lemon has been, it's picked up a number of different types and a lot of the same," said Dr. Gilmore.

Gilmore says right now, it's unknown if it would make you sick.

He says the majority of our 12 samples don't concern him, but there are a couple that stand out.

All in all, Dr. Gilmore says with a few exceptions, the lemons we tested were pretty clean.

"Yes, much cleaner than Bob Snell's hands...much cleaner.....," said Dr. Gilmore.

In fact, some of the lemons we tested didn't show any bacteria at all.

Dr. Gilmore points out we come into contact with bacteria all day every day....whether it's not washing our hands properly or touching a door knob after someone else didn't wash their hands.

Some bacteria will make us sick--but not all of the time.

So you probably won't change your lifestyle after you see this story, but you may think twice the next time you order a lemon with your drink.

Since we couldn't test the lemons in every Region 8 restaurant, we decided not to name which 12 restaurants we took samples from - all in the name of fairness.

We did run across a couple of restaurants getting around using lemon wedges all together.

When we asked for lemon with the drinks, some restaurants handed us lemon juice packets instead.