Q/A: 2

Q: Just to be clear, though: Is there hard evidence that such devices have caused foodborne illnesses?

Bazaco: No, and that’s what we’re planning to study next. We know that cell phones can harbor microorganisms, including the bacterial pathogens that cause disease. However, research on pathogen contamination on smartphones in a consumer household, such as a kitchen, is limited. We need more research to better understand the actual risk to consumers from using their devices while preparing food. This can be done by a targeted microbiological surveillance sampling of devices, their owners, and the kitchen environment. Sampling of the household environment during foodborne outbreak investigations could also identify potential risks. An assessment of the survival of foodborne pathogens on actual phones could help us better understand this risk.