A new survey by the American Dietetic Association and ConAgra Foods’ Home Food Safety program finds that as many as 83 percent of Americans eat in their office, and that they’re ignoring basic hygiene.
“For many people, multitasking through lunch is part of the average workday,” says ADA spokesperson Toby Smithson.
“While shorter lunch hours may result in getting more accomplished, they could also be causing workers to log additional sick days, as desktops hide bacteria that can lead to foodborne illness.”
According to the Home Food Safety survey, only 36 percent of respondents clean their work areas — desktop, keyboard and mouse —weekly, and two thirds do so once a month or less.
And, the authors point out, a 2007 study from the University of Arizona found the average desktop has 100 times more bacteria than a kitchen table and 400 times more than the average toilet seat.
“Treat your desktop like you would your kitchen table and counters at home,” says Smithson. “Clean all surfaces, whether at home or work, before you prepare or eat food on them.”
Only half of Americans say they always wash their hands before eating lunch, and only 67 percent say they store their lunch in a refrigerator. Rather alarmingly, around one in five people admit they don’t know if the fridge is ever cleaned, or say they know it rarely or never is.
“Food safety is very important, whether at home or at work. Simple things like washing your hands before preparing food and following microwave cooking instructions can really go a long way,” says Joan Menke-Schaenzer, chief global quality officer of ConAgra Foods.
Now go fetch that disinfectant, before you poison us all.