Hygiene Doctoids

Well this is the page for you! We have gathered together lots of hygiene factoids for you, or rather Hygiene Doctoids, which will give you the information you need, fast. For more detailed advice, check out Dr Lisa’s blog.

Can’t find what you are looking for? Then drop us a line, as the chances are if you are thinking it, so is someone else.

UK Stats
It is estimated that each year in the UK:

  • Around a million people suffer a foodborne illness
  • One third of the population will suffer from Campylobacter in their lives
  • Around 20,000 people receive hospital treatment due to foodborne illness
  • There are around 500 deaths caused by foodborne illness
  • The cost of foodborne illness to the UK economy is £1.5billion
  • For every one person with a reported case of infectious intestinal disease there are 147 more cases in the community.

Doctoid handbagWhat do you carry around in your handbag?

A swab of a handbag showed up to 10,000 bacteria per square inch. A third of bags tested positive for faecal bacteria. Bags come into contact with some very dirty places, including public transport, public toilets, and restaurant and bar floors.

Source: NHS


Listeria costs the UK economy £245million per year, and causes more deaths than any other food poisoning organism. To protect the family against Listeria, make sure you eat food within it’s shelf life, and store it in the fridge below 5°C. If pregnant, avoid certain foods, and make sure you heat any pre-packaged foods to at least 75°C all the way through.

Source: Food Standards Agency

It does exactly what it says on the tin…
but what IS on the tin?

Long life tinned food is a godsend when you have small children, but make sure that you wash the cans before opening as they may have dirt and bacteria on them from storage in the cupboard, and the supermarket warehouse before that.

It only takes one… or in this case 10

Did you know that as few as 10 E. Coli bacteria in your system can make you ill. Make sure you wash vegetables and salad carefully, especially those that you will be serving raw, and always wipe kitchen surfaces down with an antibacterial cleaner.

Charity begins at home – and so does food poisoning

Did you know that around 40% of cases of food poisoning occur in the home, according to a European-wide study by the World Health Organisation in 2003. So make sure you clean the kitchen with an anti-bacterial cleaner before and after preparing food.

Source: NHS

Bathroom v Kitchen – Would you eat off your toilet seat?

The average kitchen chopping board has around 200% more faecal bacteria on it than the average toilet seat. Hygiene experts advise you to use separate chopping boards for red meat, poultry, fish and vegetables.

Source: NHS

Most people think of the toilet as the most contaminated part of the house, but in fact the kitchen sink typically contains 100,000 times more germs than a bathroom or lavatory.

Another one bites the dust

The average person sheds up to 10g (0.35oz) of dead skin a week and up to 18kg (40lb) in their lifetime.

After two years a pillow’s weight will have increased by 10%. That weight is made up of dust mites. Machine wash your pillows regularly and put the children’s teddy bears that can’t go through the wash into the freezer to kill off dust mites.

A used mattress can have between 100,000 and 10 million dust mites in it. Use a washable mattress protector and throw the bedding back each morning as dust mites thrive in warm conditions (a good excuse not to make the bed)!

100,000 dust mites can live in 1sqm of carpet, and each one can produce up to 20 waste droppings a day. To combat this hoover at least twice a week and if you suffer from allergies avoid carpets in the home.

It’s pants!

If you don’t wash your underwear properly, then a tenth of a gram of faecal material will remain – and the rest may go on other items in the wash! Think of all those bacteria swishing around in the washing machine. Wash your laundry above 60°C to kill bacteria on underpants and don’t mix pants and tea towels in the wash. Use a bleach-based laundry powder for dirty loads and include a silver laundry additive.

Egg on your face

There are 2400 known strains of Salmonella. Lion brand eggs come from flocks vaccinated against salmonella, so they are less likely, although not guaranteed to have salmonella in them. Once purchased you should store eggs in the fridge.


The cost to the UK economy from Campylobacter in 2008 alone was £583 million, with an estimated 371,000 cases in 2009. 17,500 of those resulted in hospitalisation and there were 88 deaths from the bug. Scary figures! Around 60-80% of Camplyobacter cases are from chicken, and over 70% of fresh chicken in shops is contaminated, so to cover yourself, assume any raw chicken is contaminated. In the latest study by the Food Standards Agency, it was found that 7% of chicken packaging was contaminated with Campylobacter. this means shoppers could pick up the bug on their hands – and transfer to their mouths if they are grazing whilst shopping. Cook chicken to 75°C in the thickest place to ensure that all traces of Campylobacter are killed. We recommend using a probe thermometer which costs less than £20 and could save your family from illness. You can get one here.

Foodborne Disease

Foodborne illness is defined by the World Health Organization as ‘diseases, usually either infectious or toxic in nature, caused by agents that enter the body through the ingestion of food.’ Foodborne diseases are a serious and global problem. The WHO estimates that worldwide foodborne and waterborne diarrhoeal diseases taken together kill about 2.2 million people annually.



"Dr Lisa Ackerley is passionate about improving awareness of hygiene. Whether at home, work, on holiday, or simply out-and-about, she wants to help you keep safe."