Call for handwashing to be stepped up in workplace kitchens

23rd of March 2023
Call for handwashing to be stepped up in workplace kitchens

UK public health leaders are warning workers to improve their hand hygiene after scientists found large numbers of potentially dangerous bacteria and fungi in communal workplace kitchens.

Microbiologists analysed swabs taken from shared kitchen areas across a range of sectors including offices and construction sites. Swab samples revealed the presence of E.coli - a bacterium that can lead to a range of gastro-intestinal illnesses - on a coffee machine, fridge door handle and microwave control panel.

Pseudomonas, which is often associated with respiratory infections, was also discovered on these three surfaces. And all 11 kitchen items tested revealed evidence of Klebsiella, a microbe usually found in the human intestine and spread via faeces.

Each item was also found to be rife with fungi, with fridge door handles among the worst surfaces affected. The findings follow a study commissioned by the Champs Public Health Collaborative, an organisation led by Cheshire and Merseyside's nine directors of public health.

Study leader Dr Adam Roberts said the bacteria and fungi found on kitchen surfaces could pose a threat to anyone with a weakened immune system.

"Some microbes can lead to illness and infection if ingested into our bodies, and the easiest way to help prevent this from happening is to wash our hands regularly - especially after going to the toilet and before and after eating," he said.

The study is part of a wider campaign called Simple Things which is being run by the Champs Public Health Collaborative in partnership with NHS Cheshire and Merseyside. The aim of the campaign is to encourage people to help reduce the spread of illnesses such as colds, flu and the norovirus.


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