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Bacteria concerns over desk-based lunches

13 February 2013

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More than half of workers eat at their desks according to a BBC poll, leading to questions over the increased spread of bacteria.

The poll showed that 54% of office workers eat at their desks, but microbiologist Dr Ron Cutler said this is “not a good idea”.

“I absolutely think that people who work in GPs offices shouldn’t eat at their desk,” he said.

Although many people do it, including myself, there’s no doubt that when you put carbohydrates on a keyboard, bacteria will make use of that.”

Recent studies have shown the average desk has 100 times more bacteria than a kitchen table and 400 times more bacteria than in a toilet.

However, Dr Cutler, from Queen Mary University said proper hand hygiene would stop bacteria spreading.

He said: “One hopes that people who work in a GP setting have been trained to use hand hygieners properly.

“If they do that, everything should be okay.”

But the spread of bacteria is not the only issue raised by the poll, which aired on BBC Breakfast late last week.

Workers eating at their desk has also been shown to reduce productivity and may increase weight gain, according to the British Dietetic Association (BDA).

Britain’s leading organisation for food and nutrition professionals has produced a stream of work, Nutrition in the Workplace, which will help employers and managers to improve employees health and wellbeing.

“Wellbeing is very important to maintain,” said Alison Clark, BDA spokesman.

“Too often, stress and workplace culture take priority over healthy food choices and ensuring that employees’ health and wellbeing needs are met.”

Clark believes that workplace culture is something “all employers” need to address.