Every day people ask me the question about whether we are too clean. My first answer is that if we were too clean, then 17 million people in this country would not get an infectious intestinal disease every year! 280,000 people suffer from Campylobacter alone, and 300 people a year die from this.
These diseases are preventable – through basic hygiene measures, so I don’t think we are too clean. Simple hygiene measures need to be followed by food businesses to make sure we are safe when we eat out or buy food from the shops. However, many illnesses occur because WE are not very clean – nothing to do with businesses – they are caused by poor personal hygiene!
Think about where your hands have been before you eat. Recently I was at a lovely awards dinner and as we sat down (after lots of networking) I used some hand gel before eating lunch (and before picking up a bread roll). I offered the gel to the guest sitting next to me and he said “I don’t want to be too clean, I like my micro biome” so I pointed out that he had probably shaken hands with about 20 people, 10 of whom may not have washed their hands after going to the toilet, and all of whom had no doubt shaken hands with lots of other people. The mind boggles about how many shared bugs could have been on his hands. He took the gel.
The important thing is to clean hygienically at the right place and the right time. Understanding the way infections are caused and when to break the chain of infection is critical and makes it all much easier to understand and keep safer. The International Scientific Forum on Home Hygiene has created an e-learning resource which gives all this useful information – take a look!