• Bacteria can stick to food when it falls on the floor

    The 5 Second Rule – revisited?

    The 5 Second Rule: should you eat food if it drops on the floor?

    Recent research by has hit the press this week, reported as concluding that bacteria may not transfer quickly to some foods when dropped on the floor, and therefore the 5 second rule may apply. I carried out an experiment and put some special powder on the floor to simulate bacteria, and then dropped some bread on the floor and picked it up immediately. The bread looked fine in daylight (see the left of the image), but under the UV light showed up all the powder that had transferred (right of image) – showing what can be picked up if you drop food on the floor!

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  • Do you take your phone to the loo?

    Should you take your phone to the loo?

    Everyone does it – that smart phone goes everywhere, even the loo!

    But what are the risks?

    If you take your phone to the toilet then you risk getting it covered in germs (or dropping it down the loo)! However, for many people this may be the one time they can have a sneaky look at their messages when at work, and I doubt people will take much notice about not taking it to the loo.

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  • dirty hands can spread shigella

    Shigella – top tips to keep it away!

    Shigella, also called dysentery is transmitted via poor hygiene conditions and practices and is often associated with travel abroad.  But this week it’s in the news because of infections in the UK. Found in the poo of infected humans, you can get shigella when infected poo gets into the wrong places. By understanding how you can get sick from shigella, and following some simple rules, you can help protect yourself and your family.Read more

  • Ketchup may need to be stored in the fridge

    Ketchup and sauces in the fridge – what is all the fuss about?

    Traditionally many foods have been preserved without being stored in the fridge because they contain high quantities of salt or sugar which are used as preservatives. However, as we are being told we need to eat less salt for our heart’s health, and less sugar to reduce obesity, manufacturers are being urged by government departments to reduce sugar and salt in items we buy regularly. Read more

  • Watch out for germs if you hot desk

    Should I eat at my Desk?

    I eat at my desk – we all do it don’t we?

    I know I shouldn’t eat at my desk, what with Psychologists, Nutritionists and other health professionals telling us it’s bad. We should get out and have a walk, clear our minds, get some exercise, but are there any other things to think about?

    I have carried out a number of surveys over the years where we have swabbed desks, keyboards and (computer) mice to find unsavoury levels of bacteria on surfaces. Of course, the things to watch out for are pathogens, such as E.coli O157, norovirus and cold and flu viruses, which can collect on surfaces if people carrying the organisms don’t wash their hands.

    The Journey to the Centre of the Toilet!

    Imagine the journey of pathogens from hands that have not been washed after using the toilet. They go to your desk via the kitchen, fridge, kettle, cup cupboard, coffee and sugar containers, milk bottle, stair rail and finally arrive at your ‘lunch table’.

    The 2nd Health Protection Agency Infectious Intestinal Diseases Report estimates that 16% of us carry norovirus (many of us would not have had any symptoms so wouldn’t know). If we don’t wash our hands after using the toilet, then this can be carried to other places, including the office desk if we are hot-desking.

    So what can we do to help prevent the spread of disease and make the office a nicer place (even if we don’t eat at our desks)?

    Watch this video for more information about the journey of the germ.

    Top tips for office hygiene:

    • Wash hands after using the toilet
    • Clean your desk using an anti-bacterial or anti-viral product if you are hot-desking and particularly if you have a cold
    • Dispose of tissues after use – don’t leave them on the desk!
    • Use anti-viral hand gel
    • If you have to eat at your desk – wash your hands before you eat if you desk-share, move the keyboard away to remove crumbs – and clean up afterwards!
    • If you use the office fridge, remove any out of date food (before it walks out on its own)!

    How Clean is your Desk?

    A little test – tip your keyboard upside down and tap lightly – what comes out? Of course you can’t see the germs, but this may give you an idea of dirt levels. If you want to test the cleanliness more scientifically, contact me and we can arrange for some swabbing!

    One issue that we have found that can arise from desk lunching in offices is that if people spill crumbs and keep food in their desks, it can encourage mice and coackroaches – be warned!

    As for whether it is healthy, apart from the germ issue, many people use their work computer to do on-line shopping or follow social media in their lunch break, so whilst not actually moving around, at least they are getting a break from work!

    If your office is on an industrial estate with a busy road next door, it can’t be very tempting to get outside and have a walk.

    If possible, I am sure it is healthier to get out for a while for a break, but my guess is that after the brisk walk we should encourage, workers will still be going back to their desks for a cup of tea and their sandwich!

    However, I will leave that to the psychologists to mull over.

  • Make sure you disinfect surfaces and utensils after preparing chicken

    Did your last meal give you food poisoning?

    Food poisoning often starts with a bad bout of diarrhoea and or vomiting. It is understandable that you might think that the cause of your illness is the first thing you throw up, but in fact that can be far from the truth! In a recent survey carried out by Biomaster, 99% of respondents did not know that it takes a while for Campylobacter to make you ill after infection.Read more

  • A day in the life of a kitchen cloth

    Woke up this morning feeling like a little dry cloth, but soon enough they soaked me in dirty water when they cleaned the sink – all that washing up left overnight. It was so greasy but my cloth fabric picks up the dirt so well. Sink looks great now, but what about me? They chucked me in the corner all scrunched up so those pesky bacteria are growing away and making me smell horrible.

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  • Acrylamide – what’s it all about?

    The Food Standards Agency has released information to consumers about how to lower consumption of acrylamide in food, but what is all the fuss about?

    What is Acrylamide?

    Acrylamide is a chemical produced naturally in food as a result of cooking starch-rich food at high temperatures, such as when baking, roasting, frying or toasting. It is also found in coffee.

    What’s the problem?

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  • Make sure you are safe with your Christmas turkey - use a thermometer

    Christmas Turkey – top tips for safety!

    Christmas is coming and the turkey questions keep rolling in! So here are some simple answers and top tips to keep you safe this Christmas. Watch this space – more updates to come!

    Q How do I store the raw turkey?

    • In the fridge – lowest shelf, protected from any foods that are ready to eat.

    Q Should I wash raw turkey?

    • Absolutely not – never!!! If you wash turkey you risk spreading germs all over your kitchen sink, draining board and anything else in the vicinity. Try not to handle it too much either – anywhere it’s been needs disinfecting – use an antibacterial spray such as Dettol. And don’t forget to wash your hands thoroughly using soap and dry with a paper towel. I wash my hands twice after handling raw meat and poultry just to be on the safe side.

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