Saturday, July 13, 2013

Do you wash your hands at restaurants? - Public Transit Faecal Fiasco!!!

Simple, but effective
The world, is unfortunately a filthy place. We all know you're supposed to wash your hands before and after the washroom, but we also know not everyone is doing this. You might think this is germaphobe crazy talk, but a 2009 study published by Judah and colleagues (Dirty hands: bacteria of faecal origin on commuters' hands. Epidemiology and Infection, 2010;138(3):409-14) finds that out of 404 samples taken from commuters in various parts of the UK, 111 (or 27.5%) had faecal bacteria present. The authors theorize these results are indicative of poor handwashing practices, "specifically a failure to wash hands after contact with faecal material.". Even those of us who do wash our hands are not safe since:

"... these bacteria may have been picked up by touching a surface which someone with poor post-defecation hygiene had previously touched. This contamination can then spread via surfaces through successive individuals."

With the ultimate end result:

"...pathogens present in excreta are likely to spread between individuals via this route of transmission."

Garthright et al. in Public Health Reports estimate 99 million acute cases of intestinal disease each year in the US, half of which involved a full day of restricted activity (Estimates of incidence and costs of intestinal infectious diseases in the United States. Public Health Repors, 1988; 103(2): 107-115).

No one wants to lose a half a day to intestinal illness. Spending a day home sick costs you a day's pay or a day of vacation - that's a real cost.

So, we agree the world is filthy, and you don't want to be sick; but none of this applies to you because you wash your hands, right?

How many times do you go to a restaurant, and not wash your hands before eating?

Most of the time, don't you get your food from the counter and immediately after sit down and eat it? If you eat immediately coming in and ordering, how can you wash your hands?

If you're eating at a sit down restaurant, don't you sit, order, and eat, all without getting up? If you don't get up, how can you wash your hands?

It's awkward, but definitely worth taking that extra step to wash your hands and help reduce your odds of illness and lost productivity.


  1. If I use a fork and knife to eat with, it doesn't matter!

    1. You've got a point, but many restaurant lunches are sandwiches, burgers, burritos and things you eat with your hands. What do you do then?

      Given most of us unconsciously touch our faces during the day, more frequent handwashing is good regardless of whether you touch your food or not.

  2. Having a young baby at home, I wash or sanitize my hands before I touch her or anything of hers. But good point about restaurants, because I hadn't thought of that before...

  3. Make sure to wash your hands after ordering if you held a menu!

    1. I'll admit, I hadn't thought of that. Although I think if you were to wash your hands before sitting down and then touch a menu you would have washed off more dirt/bacteria than you put on.

      Although, good point.