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24th May 2024

Here’s why you should not use your smartphones or tablets while cooking

Sophie Collins

cooking with smartphone

“Food poisoning bacteria, like Salmonella and E.coli, can survive on the screen of a smart device for more than 24 hours”

A recent research study from Safefood has highlighted the importance of maintaining good food hygiene practices while using smart devices while home cooking. 

The study looked at hygiene habits when people used smartphones or tablets in the kitchen, specifically while cooking with raw chicken and raw eggs.

The study revealed concerning habits among home cooks:

Handwashing Neglect: One in three participants did not wash their hands after touching raw chicken before handling a smart device. 

Additionally, 74% failed to wash their hands after handling raw eggs before touching their devices.

Device Contamination: Participants’ hands and personal devices were swabbed to analyse for food poisoning bacteria. 

During a 30-minute cooking session, participants touched their smart devices nearly six times on average. 

After cooking, about 6% of pre-cleaned smart devices were contaminated with potentially harmful bacteria.

cooking with phone

Expert Insights

Introducing the research, Trish Twohig, Director of Food Safety at safefood, highlighted the increasing use of smart devices in the kitchen for various purposes such as searching for recipes, watching cooking tutorials, or sharing moments on social media. 

She emphasised the need for awareness of the potential food safety risks associated with this practice. 

“Our research found that food poisoning bacteria, like Salmonella and E.coli, can survive on the screen of a smart device for more than 24 hours,” said Twohig.

Dr. Mairead McCann, Technical Executive at safefood, added: “Nobody wants to spread potential food-poisoning bugs around kitchen surfaces or onto already-cooked foods. 

“This new research is a helpful reminder to home cooks of the potential risks associated with smart devices in the kitchen and the importance of good food safety in the home. 

“Following good habits like regular and proper hand washing and cleaning and disinfecting smart devices can help reduce cross-contamination when you are cooking.”

Safefood’s Top Tips for Food Safety with Smart Devices

To promote good food safety habits while using smart devices in the kitchen, safefood recommends the following tips:

Wash Hands Before and After Cooking: Clean hands are crucial to prevent cross-contamination between your smart device and ingredients. Wash your hands thoroughly with warm water and soap before and between handling ingredients and your smart device. Dry with a clean hand towel.

Clean Worktops Before and After Cooking: Placing your device on an unclean kitchen worktop can spread harmful bacteria. Always clean kitchen worktops with hot soapy water before and after preparing food. Regular cleaning helps reduce cross-contamination and keeps your workspace clear.

Disinfect Your Smart Device Before and After Cooking: Disinfect your smart device before starting to cook to help reduce potential cross-contamination. After cooking, disinfect your device if you have handled raw ingredients such as meat, poultry, or eggs. Follow your manufacturer’s instructions and use antibacterial wipes containing at least 70% alcohol to clean the screen, buttons, and edges thoroughly.

For more information on good food safety habits while cooking, visit safefood or follow safefood on Facebook, X (formerly Twitter), and Instagram.