Is your Mobile Device Contaminating your Food?

I was in a restroom the other day and I noticed a food service worker exiting a stall with his cell phone in his hand.

My apologies if you are reading this at breakfast.

The food service worker placed the phone in his pocket, and diligently washed his hands before returning to work. What is wrong with this picture?  The problem is that if he was using the phone while in the bathroom, the phone is likely to have picked up bacteria or other matter along the course of its use.

Numerous studies, some of which date back more than 3 years, have cited the problems of bacteria on cell phones.  One story goes so far as to state that a cell phone may be less sanitary than a toilet seat.   In the case of the food employee who I witnessed – even though he washed his hands after using the restroom, if he then uses the phone while working back at his food station, he stands the risk at creating a cross-contamination event.  Cross-contamination is a cause of many food-borne illnesses.

Think about the last time you cleaned your mobile devices. As an old sysadmin, I recall many times where people would hand me devices that were in such a state of filth as to make me wonder how they could see the screen at all.  I once encountered a person who handed me his iPad as he was walking out of the men’s room because it “wasn’t working”. I looked at him, chuckled, and said “you don’t say!” He did not understand my hesitation to eagerly grab the device from him so solve the problem. Image 1

Many support technicians have embraced this problem by sharing photos of the unsanitary condition of various devices with their unfortunate brethren. It is treated as a comical occupational hazard.

Here is a favorite from my personal collection:

Please take a moment to consider not only your friendly support person before you hand your device in for a repair, take a moment to also think of yourself.  That unsanitary device stands just as much a chance of getting you ill as it does anyone else.

There are many products that are marketed as anti-bacterial cloths made specifically for mobile devices.  If you are inclined to use these products, I applaud you (with my washed hands).  However, it would behoove you to use any type of anti-bacterial wipe to clean all of your devices on a regular basis. A few moments of device hygiene is all it takes to protect yourself and others.

[su_box title=”About Bob Covello” style=”noise” box_color=”#336588″]Bob CovelloBob Covello  is a 20-year technology veteran and InfoSec analyst with a passion for security topics. He is also a volunteer for various organizations focused on advocating for and advising others about staying safe and secure online.[/su_box]

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