In many pubs, bars and clubs peanuts are provided as a convenience.

The saying goes that throughout the night, grubby dudes who don't wash their hands after going to the bathroom come out and taint the peanuts. By the end of the night the peanuts are supposedly infected with several sources of urine.

From snopes:

On 13 July 2005, while a guest on The Tonight Show With Jay Leno, Johnny Depp stated that a study done on bar peanuts revealed the presence of 27 different types of urine.

(Snopes article does not address peanuts, only mints, and peanuts are still available in many Australian bars and clubs I have been to)

  • 1
    Sounds plausible. But what are we talking about here? According to wikipedia: "Urine is an aqueous solution of greater than 95% water, with the remaining constituents, in order of decreasing concentration urea 9.3 g/L, chloride 1.87 g/L, sodium 1.17 g/L, potassium 0.750 g/L, creatinine 0.670 g/L and other dissolved ions, inorganic and organic compounds."
    – user2466
    May 30, 2011 at 23:40
  • 1
    @xiao - It's a bit like the one that goes, given what we know about atoms, you inhale a carbon atom that was part of the Buddha's vomit every 10th breath (or whatever the case may be). Setting the level will be a little arbitrary here but I think it's needed to proceed with some answers.
    – user2466
    May 31, 2011 at 0:47
  • 2
    @odd@boehj urine is only sterile when fresh and still in the bladder (and even that's a generalization, really)once it leaves it picks up anything that happens to be hanging out in the urinary tract. The urine that leaves your body is not sterile. Of course that doesn't mean it's guaranteed to spread anything. Especially in tiny amounts, but I'd be interested to know if this has been studied. May 31, 2011 at 2:46
  • 2
    @Monkey: I think we were quibbling over peanuts. Ba-doom-tish.
    – user2466
    May 31, 2011 at 4:56
  • 2
    Why shall bar guests touch peanuts, without eating them? May 31, 2011 at 5:04

3 Answers 3


I can't find any evidence of a study done on peanuts, however here are some other interesting articles that appear to have research to back them up:

So the answer to my question is likely that wherever peoples hands go so goes bacteria.

It also appears there is no study on nuts in bars, so hopefully people can stop saying "a study was done a few years ago on peanuts in bars and... blah".

  • Srry, didn't want to answer my own Q, but after discussion with @boehj above, just wanted to clarify what I was asking.
    – going
    May 31, 2011 at 1:38
  • 2
    so nice to notice "studies" talking about things that occur naturally as a pollutant. E-Coli especially is everywhere, in thousands of varieties. That includes faecal matter. So anything having any strain of E-Coli in it can be said (and by such alarmist articles is said) to be "polluted by faecal bacteria".
    – jwenting
    May 31, 2011 at 5:27
  • Read the fast food ice article. How are people's fudgey hands getting in those ice machines? Yuck! I'm thinking bottled water from now on... May 31, 2011 at 18:48

According to the man in the video there are no harmful 'poo' bacteria to be found on bar snacks.

The hypothesis is that the salt on the bar snaxxx are hostile to the bacteria.



According to Fines and Probation for Peanut Problems FDA Consumer, Volume 24, Number 7, September 1990, page 43:

A Suffolk, Va., warehouse company and its president were ordered in March to pay thousands of dollars in fines, serve probation, and hire a sanitation engineer after FDA investigators found peanuts held in a storage contaminated by human urine...The contamination by human urine is one of only two or three of such incidence documented in the past 14 years

Basically, employees were urinating on bulk bags of peanuts in the warehouses.

The urine "penetrated several burlap bags in three of the warehouses"

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .