The Average Desk has 400 times more Bacteria than a Toilet Seat
Do you often eat at your home/office desk? You may not want to hear this, but a new study has found that an average desktop has 100 times more bacteria than a kitchen table and 400 times more than the average toilet seat.
The research also found that a whopping 83 per cent of Americans typically eat in their office or cubicle in an effort to save time and money.
American Dietetic Association
According to a new survey by the American Dietetic Association and ConAgra Foods’ Home Food Safety programme, a majority of Americans continue to eat lunch (62 per cent) and snack throughout the day (50 per cent) at their desks, while 27 per cent typically find breakfast the first thing on their desktop to-do list. Late nights at the office even leave a small percentage (4 per cent) dining at their desktop for dinner.
“For many people, multitasking through lunch is part of the average workday,” said registered dietician and ADA spokesperson Toby Smithson.
“While shorter lunch hours may result in getting more accomplished, they could also be causing workers to log additional sick days, as desktops hide bacteria that can lead to food borne illness,” she said.
Food Borne Illness at the Office
In order to reduce the risk of food borne illness, Smithson recommends washing your hands before and after handling food with soap and warm water, and keeping your desk stocked with moist towelettes or hand sanitizer for those times you can’t get to the sink.
“A clean desktop and hands are your best defence to avoid food borne illnesses at the office,” she says.
According to the Home Food Safety survey, only 36 per cent of respondents clean their work areas—desktop, keyboard, mouse—weekly and 64 per cent do so only once a month or less.
Treat Desktop like your Kitchen
“Treat your desktop like you would your kitchen table and counters at home,” says Smithson.
“Clean all surfaces, whether at home or work, before you prepare or eat food on them,” she added.
“Desks are really bacteria cafeterias,” said Charles Gerba, a microbiologist who’s studied dirty desks, in a UA press release several years ago. “They’re breakfast buffets, lunch tables and snack bars, as we spend more and more hours at the office.”
And wash your hands! The Desktop Dining Survey found only half of Americans say they always wash their hands before eating lunch.
“The key to preventing foodborne illness is food handling from start to finish,” Smithson e-mailed Lunch Box. Keep things clean (your hands, eating surfaces, the food), watch the time (“Do not keep foods less than 2 hours outside of proper temperature”), and make sure foods are either kept below 40 degrees fahrenheit and heated above 140 degrees fahrenheit.
Office Microwaves & Refrigerators get Cleaned?
Most workplaces have a refrigerator and microwave available to employees. Some 67 percent say they store their lunch in the refrigerator. Still:
•One in five people say they don’t know if it ever (or never) gets cleaned.
•49 percent let perishable food sit out for 3-plus hours. Who cares? It can begin to spoil.
The Desktop Dining Survey was conducted in April 2011 by HealthFocus International and based on a random sample of 2,191 full-time employees who work at a desk. It’s the second time the survey was conducted as part of the Home Food Safety program, a collaboration betwee the American Dietetic Association and ConAgra Foods; the previous survey was conducted in 2003.