Prevalence and Control of Bacteria on Single-user Touchscreen Mobile Devices

Meghan Jones, Giselle Almeida, Sarah L. Jones, Kristen E. Gibson

Biblographic citation: Food Protection Trends, vol. 40, no. 3, pp. 147-153, May 2020

Volume 40, Issue 3: Pages 147–153

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Touchscreen mobile devices (TMD) are increasingly recognized as potential vehicles of disease transmission. This study aimed to i) characterize bacterial contamination of single-user TMDs and ii) evaluate the efficacy of two cleaning interventions. Additionally, study participants (n = 100) completed a survey on TMD use within food service establishments. Participants’ TMDs were measured and divided vertically into sides A and B. Side A was swabbed to determine baseline levels of bacteria; side B was treated with a dry microfiber cloth or an isopropyl alcohol (IA) wipe and then swabbed. Swabs were spread on tryptic soy agar plates, which were then incubated. The average baseline bacterial concentration was 0.76 log10 (CFU/cm2+1), with no difference between treatment groups (P = 0.183). There was a significant difference (P < 0.0001) between bacterial concentrations on side A and B, at 0.76 and 0.43 log10 (CFU/cm2+1), respectively, regardless of treatment group. There was no significant difference (P = 0.132) in bacteria reductions between the two treatment groups. Data indicate that proper cleaning can reduce bacteria on TMDs by nearly 50%. More than 80% of participants expressed the belief that (i) TMDs can harbor harmful microorganisms; (ii) food service workers should clean their TMDs; and (iii) using a TMD while working with food is a potential health risk.

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