The office kitchen is dirtier than the toilet - research

How grubby is your workplace kitchen?Photo / Thinkstock
How grubby is your workplace kitchen?Photo / Thinkstock

Workplace kitchens are dangerously dirty, to the point that they could cause illness, new research suggests.

A study has revealed that half of surfaces in workplace kitchens are contaminated by dangerously high levels of coliforms - the bacteria present in faeces which can lead to outbreaks of gastrointestinal disease.

It also showed that more than a quarter of chopping boards were found to have four times the safe level of coliforms.

The research also revealed that the handles of shared fridges were bacteria-rife, with a third carrying high levels of coliforms, whilst 30 per cent of shared microwaves were also shown to be contaminated around the handles and buttons.

More than 40 per cent of kettle handles were revealed to be contaminated with higher levels of bacteria than are found on toilet doors.

Overall, the swab results, carried out by Initial Washroom Hygiene, showed that 75 per cent of kitchen work surfaces are home to more bacteria than an average feminine sanitary bin.

Dr Peter Barratt, Technical Manager at Initial Hygiene, said: "Shared office kitchens can be very busy areas with a heavy footfall, making this space a potential hazard for cross-contamination when good hygiene practices and hand washing aren't encouraged.

"As workers prepare their lunches on the kitchen surfaces, it's vital to ensure these surfaces are sanitised on a regular basis and that, as a minimum, towel dispensers, soap, and hand or surface sanitisers are available to mitigate the risks.

"Regular hand washing with soap and water has been proven to reduce the risk of the spreading of pathogens, and will help to ensure the workforce remains fit and healthy."

To conduct the research Initial took 280 samples from 70 kitchen appliances in eight offices.

The news comes just after it was revealed that one sick person can infect half of an office's commonly touched surfaces by lunchtime.

Scientists at the University of Arizona discovered that telephones, desktops, table tops, doorknobs, photocopier and lift buttons, and the office fridges are all rapidly contaminated by an ailing worker.

However the study also revealed that simple interventions, such as hand washing and the use of hand sanitiser or wipes, can drastically reduce employees' risk of infection.

- DAILY MAIL

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