Research

Use of Electronic Devices During Cooking Can Cause Contamination | Warns FDA

Cell phones have become an essential part of life these days. Whether you’re on the move or you’re cooking something in the kitchen, the cell phones seem to remain in our hands 24/7. Sometimes, most of us have work-related tasks to perform, while other times we just look up to recipes while cooking in the kitchen- scrolling through them or just watching a video for preparing a certain one.

It seems ubiquitous now and something the absence of which can hardly be tolerated by anyone anymore. Sounds good?

While we all concur that any of us can hardly resist using cell phones, a report by FDA warns that use of cell phones in the kitchen can actually be kind of a hazard to one’s health as well as to food.

The study was performed by two scientists primarily, of FDA, naming Amy Lando, a social scientist by profession and Michael Bazaco, an epidemiologist, along with the help of another scientist Yi Chen, who was a microbiologist. All these three worked on it and tried to find out whether there’s any relationship between the food and the usage of the cell phone where bacteria can be transferred.

The research that was performed by these scientists was done via phone calls and there were at least 4000 people who were questioned a certain number of questions about whether they use cell phones during cooking in their kitchens or not. Some other numbers of questions were also posed with regards to the safety of food and the analysis that was done was made in the light of the answers which the respondents have shared. The research longed for at least 4 months- from October 2015 to January 2016.

Lando comments that while many people used their cell phones in the kitchen while cooking or sifting through the food, many people hardly took this as any health hazard issue. Most of the people thought that the use of cell phone could not become the cause of contamination of food.

While many people believed in washing their hands specifically with some soap after getting in touch with the raw meat, chicken or fish, the approximate percentage of which was 85%, many didn’t believe or didn’t practice the same after touching their cell phones. People hardly washed their hands after touching their cell phones in the kitchen, the approximate percentage of which was 37%, says Lando.

Bazaco, however, shared an interesting point that he came across during his research. And it was that people who were cautious of the fact that continuous usage of cell phones in the kitchen can actually transfer some sort of harmful bacteria which can result in contamination of food would rather try scrolling through their mobiles via their pinkies or elbows instead of directly touching their devices. Moreover, people also reported having said that they also kept their devices clean by either using wipes or cleaners for the screens. Bazaco comments that such a practice is still more beneficial than directly touching the devices or never cleaning one’s device’s screen.

What Can Consumers Do During the Cooking Process in Order to Stay Safe?

Although, completely avoiding the devices when they are almost everywhere around us is sort of an impossible task. Nevertheless, taking precautionary measures in order to stay safe is never a bad idea. Thus, FDA suggests some precautionary measures which are as follows:

  1. It is advised that while cooking, keep washing your hands or the surfaces as frequently as possible.
  2. Try to keep things separate and avoid cross-contamination.
  3. Do the cooking on temperatures which are safe internally.
  4. Let the food get chilled or refrigerate it.
  5. Minimize the contact of hands with the devices while cooking.

References

  • https://www.fda.gov/Food/FoodborneIllnessContaminants/BuyStoreServeSafeFood/ucm614915.htm

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