Do Restaurants Have Filtered Water?

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Is the water used at restaurants filtered, or is it tap water? All of the restaurants that I have worked in use a water filtering system that’s a lot bigger than the ones you will find at home. They look like huge cylinders, or many cylinders attached to one another.

Walter Filter In A Restaurant

This is a water filter at a restaurant. They are normally found at the back of a restaurant, past the kitchen area. Water filters are used to filter out sediments, which is any type of material found in the water that would settle at the bottom of the water.

They are also used to trap bacteria and keep it out of your drinking water. This is an extra benefit to having a water filter over not having one, even though the water may be clean without one. They also can filter out unwanted minerals in the water and lead.

Restaurants will also use water filters to protect their equipment (like ice machines) from getting dirty and clogged from the minerals found in water. Filtered water systems can save restaurants from expensive repairs from the minerals and residue left behind in water after extensive use.

It can prevent the faucets and dispenser that the water goes through from becoming filthy and clogged with residue.

The water filter systems are usually built in along with the restaurants from the very beginning. They have pipes that connect to the cylinders and run into the walls, connecting to all of the sinks, water dispensers, and the ice machine.

Water Filter Connecting to All the Water in a Restaurant

So even the sinks that were not used for drinking water but for washing dishes, can have filtered clean water. All of the water and ice offered to customers in this restaurant in this picture is filtered.

Is The Water In Restaurants Clean?

The water in restaurants is required to be clean. A restaurant that has dirty running water would be unsanitary, therefore unfit for washing hands. That means that they risk failing a health inspection and getting shutdown or suspended. Restaurants can get shut down just from not having hot water, which is also needed for sanitation and hand washing.

Even the bottled water served at restaurants is checked by the FDA in plants for sanitation before it is sold to anyone in a store or restaurant.

If a restaurant is using tap water (water without a filter system/public drinking water), it is already regulated by the EPA and the FDA to make sure that it is clean and safe for consumption. Tap water is also checked for contamination, bacteria, and chemicals. The water is considered to be clean water. It is sampled and tested as well by the EPA.

Besides this, maintaining clean water would also depend on the sink or dispenser that the water is being ran through. The water itself can be clean, but if the restaurants don’t regularly clean the nozzles on the dispensers that the clean water is going through, the water can become dirty or contaminated again.

Dirty Faucet in a Restaurant

Bacteria and other contaminates can find their back into clean water if it is being ran through a dirty dispenser or faucet.

How Do Restaurants Serve Their Water?

Restaurants typically serve their water to customers through dispensers that serve fountain drinks on a fountain drink machine. The fountain drink machines are usually connected to a water filtering system. If for some reason the restaurant doesn’t have a fountain drink machine, the water also could be served straight from the sink.

Ultimately the water that the customer receives is dependent on if the restaurant is using a water filtering system that is attached to the sink or dispenser that the water is coming from. In other words, high quality filtered water can come from a sink too.

Restaurants may also just decide to serve bottled water only to their customers, even though the common courtesy is to offer tap water/filtered water for free. There isn’t anything stopping them from charging for water that isn’t bottled, which is why some restaurants charge a small amount for water or a cup of ice. They may decide to do this to pay for the cup that the water is served in.

Is It Safe To Drink The Water At A Restaurant?

There are many factors that determine whether it is safe to drink the water at a restaurant. As mentioned, the water itself rarely comes from an unsafe unregulated source. It is best to examine the cleanliness of the restaurant as a whole to see if it is safe to drink the water at the restaurant.

Here are some things to check for to determine if the water is safe to drink at a restaurant:

  • See if the place where the water is coming from is clean. Check to see if the faucet, nozzle, or dispenser where the water is exiting is clean.
    • A dirty nozzle or faucet may have build up or bacteria that can find its way into the already clean water, contaminating it or making it dirty.
  • Check to see if there is a water filtering system.
    • If the concern is all the extra things that are found in tap water, even after it is already approved by the EPA, then ask the restaurant if they have/use a water filtering system. Water filtering systems use reverse osmosis, which uses membranes to trap these things and further filter the water.
  • Check to see if the cup or glass is clean.
    • The restaurant may use a water filter that’s running through clean dispensers, but the cup might not be clean. It is important that the glass we receive our water in is clean too.

If one of these checkpoints fails, then it is probably safe to say that the water is not safe to drink at that restaurant and you shouldn’t drink it.

There are others ways that the water can become unsafe to drink. One example would be a water dispenser that is available for anyone to freely fill up their cup with water. Because it has public access, people can touch the nozzles or the inside parts where the water is exiting. If their hands aren’t clean, they can easily contaminate the water that exits that nozzle, making it unsafe to drink. Things like this is the reason why people will opt put on drinking any water that is offered at a restaurant unless it is bottled water.

If the restaurant is clean and their nozzle and equipment are clean, then their clean water will most likely stay clean too.

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