Q/A: 4

Q: Did the survey respondents or focus group participants have any sense that the use of these devices while cooking could present a source of food contamination?

Lando: Most people don’t recognize this as a safety issue. People in both the focus groups and the survey were much more likely to report washing their hands after touching raw meat, chicken, or fish – foods that leave hands feeling sticky and are associated with bacteria such as Salmonella and E. coli – than after touching their devices. Among food handlers who engage in each behavior, thirty-seven percent reported washing their hands with soap after touching their personal electronic device, compared to 85% who washed their hands after handling raw meat, chicken or fish.

Bazaco: However, there were some consumers who reported having developed their own strategies for minimizing cross contamination, such using pinkies, elbows, or knuckles to touch the phone; waiting until there is a good time in the cooking process (such as when they are only stirring things) to touch their device; and putting the device in a special location – such as away from the food and sink. Many also report cleaning their devices with wipes, screen cleaners, or cloths. Some of these practices are more effective than others, of course, and that is another area where further research may be needed.