Unsafe As Houses

Brits are ignoring basic home hygiene. This is one of the shocking facts revealed in the Hygiene Council’s 2007 global survey. Research shows that most public toilets are cleaner to eat off than kitchen work surfaces in British homes.

Research found that work surfaces in British homes used for preparing food were less hygienic than public toilets in a whopping 85 per cent of the cases! In fact, the average kitchen surface had 10 times more bacteria than the toilet seat.

The survey funded by Dettol found that only three per cent of Brits believed the home to be the most likely source of infection, with hygiene advice for homes being generally ignored.

More than 10,000 people across 10 countries across the globe took part in the research that focused on basic hygiene principles. It found that the majority of Brits are not aware that they could encounter more bacteria in their homes than in public places.

The Hygiene Council’s report also found that only a third of Brits wash their hands properly after sneezing, handling pets, before eating, before handling food and after using the toilet. The Hygiene Council’s panel of experts warns that not washing hands at appropriate times can have far reaching consequences.

They say recent research by the Center for Disease Control estimates an average school child misses approximately one week of school a year due to illness.

Yet hand sanitisers were shown to reduce illness-related absenteeism in school children by up to 49 per cent. This is because hands are the primary carrier of various germs and pathogens, including E.coli and Salmonella.

But bacteria can also be found in unlikely places like light switches, door handles, the kitchen chopping board and other frequently touched surfaces – which makes them cleaner than the toilet seat!

The Hygiene Council says that good hygiene is directly linked to a reduction in the incidence of illness and infection. And men are the worst offenders, with only 28 per cent sticking to home hygiene routines compared to 42 per cent of women, found the report, which was sponsored by Dettol.

Dr Lisa Ackerley, hygiene expert and member of the UK Hygiene Council, said: “Your home may not be as clean as you think it is. It’s not enough to simply remove the visible dirt you can see with the naked eye.”

Researchers also tested baby high chairs in homes where there were children under three and found that all of those tested were unacceptably dirty. Coliforms – which are bacteria that indicate a surface has been contaminated by faecal matter, raw meat, soil or unwashed vegetables – were found on a staggering 60 per cent of the trays.

Ironically, in all the homes tested, the floors were cleaner than the high chair trays – with 40 per cent of them clean enough to serve food on.

“Bacteria and germs such as E.coli that cause illnesses with symptoms such as diarrhoea and vomiting can still present on a visibly clean surface. By using a quality antibacterial product you can be sure your surfaces are hygienically clean.”

“Home hygiene should be regarded as a scientific approach in its own right. Scientific evidence shows that simple and good hygiene practices can reduce the risk of illness and infection at home and in the community, so we must protect ourselves by putting these measures into practice,” commented Professor John

Oxford, Chairman of the Hygiene Council and Professor of Virology at St Bartholomew’s and the Royal London Hospital, Queen Mary’s School of Medicine and Dentistry.

The Hygiene Council has formed to help combat the growing incidence of the spread of infections, such as avian influenza or MRSA, by providing recommendations on good hygiene to help the public.

The council is made up of some of the world’s top experts in areas such as virology, microbiology and infectious disease.