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Study Reveals UK Is Dirtiest Developed Country

New research reveals Britain is the dirtiest country in the developed world – despite two thirds of Brits claiming they are more aware of the importance of hygiene now than last year.

The first-of-its-kind study, which swabbed 140 homes from seven countries across the globe, found that:

  • A quarter of UK kitchen cloths harbour E. Coli – an indication of faecal contamination
  • 15% of Brits’ kitchen sinks had E. Coli present
  • Two thirds of baths and showers were satisfactorily clean – yet only 45% of sinks were cleaned to the same standard

Worryingly, despite most harmful bacteria being found around the kitchen sink, the Global Hygiene Council’s survey of people across the globe found that most people believe they need to focus their cleaning efforts on the rubbish bin and the toilet to protect their family from infection. 

“Despite the public receiving more messages about hygiene than ever before, it is clear that there is still a gap between knowledge and practice. To discover E.Coli in so many of the UK kitchens studied is particularly concerning,” commented Professor John Oxford, Chairman of the Hygiene Council and Professor of Virology at St Bartholomew’s and the Royal London Hospital, Queen Mary’s School of Medicine and Dentistry.

“In response, the Hygiene Council is today releasing simple, effective guidelines based on scientific evidence that can help the public to protect their families from infections.”

Risky Hygiene Hotspots
Over half of those surveyed believe that washing hands regularly is the best way to prevent the spread of germs in the home. While good hand washing is vital to break the chain of infection, it’s clear from the study findings that more attention needs to be paid to antibacterial surface cleansing, especially in the kitchen, to protect family members from infection.

Interestingly, two thirds of those surveyed revealed that they would change their plans to avoid visiting a house that they believed ‘looked dirty’. When comparing this insight with the study findings, this indicates that there is a gap in people’s knowledge about the importance of hygienic cleaning – just because something ‘looks clean’ does not mean that it is free from the pathogens that can make people ill.

“I admit I was shocked when I reviewed the results of the study. From previous experience, I had expected to encounter E. Coli – but not as much as was found.” commented Dr Lisa Ackerley, member of the UK Hygiene Council and consultant in environmental hygiene.

“When people use cloths in the kitchen for extended periods, they create a ‘bacterial timebomb’ that is moist and festers, creating the ideal environment for germs to multiply and be spread around the home.

“Even more worryingly, it’s possible for E. Coli to survive on kitchen surfaces for up to 60 days. This is an indication of levels of contamination that could compromise the health of vulnerable family members like children, the elderly and those who are already unwell.

The best way to protect your family from bacteria is to clean hygiene hotspots, like taps and kitchen surfaces, on a regular basis with a quality disinfectant or antibacterial cleaner. Don’t forget to use an antibacterial cleaner when using a kitchen cloth, and replace your cloths regularly. You could use disposable antibacterial wipes, or soak cloths in disinfectant liquid overnight to kill bugs. If you’re using a dirty cloth to clean, then you’re not cleaning anything at all.”

The Hygiene Council has formed to help combat the growing incidence of the spread of infections, such as avian influenza or MRSA, by providing recommendations on good hygiene to help the public. The council is made up of some of the world’s top experts in areas such as virology, microbiology and infectious disease.

Who is The Hygiene Council?

The Hygiene Council is an initiative bringing together leading global experts in the field of microbiology, virology, infectious diseases, immunology, and public health. The aim is to revisit current hygiene practices

The Hygiene Council’s initial aim was to revisit current hygiene practices in order to offer realistic recommendations to the public on the importance of hygiene in the home and community.

At their inaugural meeting, the Hygiene Council discussed aspects of hygiene practice in both developed and developing nations, measures of prevention and control of avian and pandemic influenza, hygiene measures in the home, the role of disinfectants, and protection from micro-organisms.

If programmes to prevent infection are to be effective it is essential to identify those activities where the risk of picking up an infection is high. While behavioural changes occur over time, the Council recognise the need to offer recommendations on good hygiene practice now and for the future.

Learn More

Hygiene Hot Spots: How Does Your Region Compare?

Click here to see where the UK rates in the global league table.

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'We have come from a world of infection, we live in a world of infection, and in the future, unless we take control of infection now, we will continue to live in a world of infection'. -- Professor John Oxford, United

Download Hygiene Council New Best Guidelines Practice Recommendations

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Hygiene Council Best Practice Recommendations

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