PFM 20 9 - Page 22

A Cuppa Germs!
From mugs and kettles to the tea bag tin and sugar pot, Initial Washroom Hygiene’s swabbing
study finds the workplace tea run can be a bacterial minefield
new study released today by
Initial Washroom Hygiene
reveals that office workers
could be exposing themselves to more
harmful germs than they think during
their daily tea run.
A swabbing study conducted in several
office locations across Britain, found
particularly high levels of microbial
activity on the tins or boxes where tea
bags are kept – recording an average
reading 17 times higher than that of an
average toilet seat. Other culprits of
significant microbiological activity were
fridge door handles, the kettle and the
sugar pot.
Whilst regular cleaning of shared kitchen
facilities in office environments will go a
long way to help with bacterial and viral
contamination, employee behaviour can
also play a part. A survey of 1,000 office
workers conducted by Initial Washroom
Hygiene found that only a third of people
wash a mug before making a cup of tea
for a colleague, and 80% of those
surveyed admitted that they do not
wash their hands before making
someone else’s tea. Being aware of a
mug’s owner is also important – more
than one in 10 have accidently mixed
up mugs on a tea run, with 5% admitting
to deliberately mixing them up! With the
average microbial ATP (adenosine
triphosphate) reading of a used mug
coming in at 1,746 (more than three
times what is considered to be within a
‘normal’ range), using someone else’s
mug could significantly increase the
chances of cross contamination and the
spread of colds and other viruses in the
These microbiological readings are
typical indicators of poor hygiene, which
can increase the risk of cross
contamination and the spread of colds
and viruses, such as Norovirus, levels
of which tend to increase when winter
sets in as we spend more time indoors.
They were taken using an ATP
bioluminescence reader to measure the
microbiological concentration on the
various surfaces that were swabbed
during the study.
Dr Peter Barratt, Initial Washroom
Hygiene comments: “The tea run can
often become a bit of a minefield, but
few would have thought of it as a


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