Woman found washing dishes in Australian shopping centre toilets

Thanks to a Brisbane barfblog.com contributor for highlighting this piece.

washing.dishes.bathroomThe Courier-Mail reports a Cairns father was “shocked and disgusted” when he busted a woman washing dishes in the baby changing room of a major shopping centre.

The man contacted The Cairns Post anonymously after finding a woman washing large bowls and other equipment in the baby room at the city’s Stockland Shopping Centre over the weekend.

“It was disgusting,” he said.

“I was taking my three-year-old son to the toilet, and that’s what we saw.

“I just couldn’t believe she was doing dishes in there so I snapped a photo to show ­security.”

The man said he approached cleaners and security at the centre, who took the issue up with centre management.

Stockland Cairns centre manager Andrew Provan said “We would like to make it clear that the tenant is not involved in food catering at our centre, and confirm that all food catering tenants have their own commercial dishwashing facilities on-site. Nevertheless, we have instructed the tenant that the parents’ room facilities are there for the express use of our customers with children.”

It’s dry in here: Bugs on bathroom surfaces largely dormant

Human-associated bacteria dominate the built environment (BE)

Following decontamination of floors, toilet seats, and soap dispensers in four public restrooms, in situ bacterial communities were characterized hourly, daily, and weekly to determine their successional ecology. The viability of cultivable bacteria, following the removal of dispersal agents (humans), was also assessed hourly.

toilet_graffiti_620A late-successional community developed within 5 to 8 h on restroom floors and showed remarkable stability over weeks to months. Despite late-successional dominance by skin- and outdoor-associated bacteria, the most ubiquitous organisms were predominantly gut-associated taxa, which persisted following exclusion of humans. Staphylococcus represented the majority of the cultivable community, even after several hours of human exclusion. Methicillin-resistant  Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA)-associated virulence genes were found on floors but were not present in assembled Staphylococcus pan-genomes.

Viral abundances, which were predominantly enterophages, human papilloma virus, and herpes viruses, were significantly correlated with bacterial abundances and showed an unexpectedly low virus-to-bacterium ratio in surface-associated samples, suggesting that bacterial hosts are mostly dormant on BE surfaces.

Ecological succession and viability of human-associated microbiota on restroom surfaces

Applied and Environmental Microbiology, Volume 81, Issue 2, January 2015, Pages 765-773

S. Gibbons, T. Schwartz, J. Fouquier, M. Mitchell, N. Sangwan, J. Gilbert, and S. Kelley


Norovirus outbreak at Commonwealth Games linked to restrooms that were ‘not as they should be’

The staff restrooms at the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow have a norovirus problem. According to scotsman.com, almost 50 games staff members have now come down with gastrointestinal illness and a makeshift restroom is being fingered as the source.

First Minister Alex Salmond said officials were “confident” they had identified the probable cause of the outbreak, which sparked a health scare just days before Glasgow 2014 gets 

No athletes or team officials have been affected by the suspected norovirus outbreak and NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde said the toilet block had been closed to prevent the bug – which leads to sickness and diarrhoea – spreading further.

Speaking after the final meeting of the Glasgow 2014 strategic group yesterday, Mr Salmond said: “We’re confident we’ve identified the cause of the outbreak, a temporary facility which was not as it should be.”

‘Should be’ translates to soap, running water, paper towels and some sort of cleaning and sanitation program.

Should you really stop using your phone in the bathroom?

It’s no secret I take my computer to the bathroom. Esteemed International Association of Food Protection president Don Schaffner noted as much at last year’s meeting, telling attendees far more than they wanted to know when he said he got a great food safety risk communication distillation from me – while I was on the toilet.

toilet.tweetingWhen Chapman first got a blackberry over 10 years ago, he e-mailed me and proudly proclaimed, “I’m in the bathroom” (but not exactly like that).

Today’s hipsters call it toilet tweeting.

So when a story from Canada’s version of state-sponsored jazz (CBC) proclaims you should probably stop bringing your phone into the bathroom with you, I have some questions.

The story quotes Anne Bialachowski, manager of infection control at St. Joseph’s Healthcare in Hamilton, Ontario, was testing smartphones and tablets at St. Joseph’s on Monday as part of World Hand Hygiene Day, and found that some devices were more than just grimy.

Using an ATP test, which measures organic material that gets left behind on surfaces, Bialachowski found some phones and tablets had scads of things living on them — that organic material could be anything from fecal matter and E. coli, to the virus that causes the flu.

Until the results are published in something resembling a peer-reviewed journal, they’re not much.

Beijing sets ‘two-fly’ rule for public restrooms

Fox News reports that public restrooms in Beijing must contain no more than two flies per stall, according to a bizarre new directive issued to washroom attendants.

The Beijing Municipal Commission of City Administration and Environment issued the rule Monday as a "new standard for public toilet management," the Beijing News reported.

Xie Guomin, the official in charge of the initiative, told the newspaper that the two-fly rule was not compulsory, but was a new benchmark to improve the Chinese capital’s notoriously unpleasant public restrooms.

"We will not actually count fly numbers. The regulation is specific and quantified, but the inspection methodology will be flexible."

Does a dirty restaurant toilet mean the kitchen’s filthy, too?

Joyce Slaton of Chow tracked me down the other day and we had a lovely chat about yucky things after I had taken my daughter to school and before she had to pick up her daughter. Time zones.

Slaton writes that research conducted in the summer of 2011 by Harris Interactive found a solid 79 percent of respondents saying they’d avoid a restaurant after encountering a nasty bathroom. But does the link between a filthy toilet and a dirty prep table even make sense? Hard data is rare. Though health and restaurant inspectors do check for the general appearance of cleanliness in restrooms and dining areas, they save their swabs and scientific gauges for the food-prep areas.

But as Douglas Powell, professor of food safety at Kansas State University, publisher of food safety-focused barfblog.com, and a passionate proponent of proper handwashing (we’ll get to that in a moment), says, "There’s a yuck factor when you go in and say, ‘Eww, this is dirty, what else is?’ But there’s no proven correlation between having a dirty bathroom and unsafe food. The employees have different sinks to wash their hands in. You don’t see those—they’re at the back."

Chowhound poster soupkitten makes a good point in a thread titled Freezing Bathrooms=Omen: "Folks who want to point to a smudge on the front window of a restaurant or a smudge on the floor of the men’s room as evidence that the kitchen of a restaurant or any other business is unsanitary seriously need to realize that most establishments have divisions of labor and that the brunch crew comes in at 6 a.m. to crack eggs, not wash windows and wipe down toilet seats!"

Meanwhile, Powell (politely) pshaw-ed my notion that a dirty bathroom meant that diners should order differently or avoid a restaurant.

"But," he warns, "if you see a cook or a waiter come in and use the bathroom and start to leave without washing up, say something [like], ‘Dude, wash your hands!’" Powell also hopes patrons will speak up when bathrooms don’t have the tools for proper handwashing. Which are?

• Vigorously flowing water: "Temperature doesn’t matter," says Powell, despite the fact that we’ve all been told that warm water works better. Microbiologically, it doesn’t matter.

• Soap: Lather energetically for 10 seconds, not 20 as you may have heard. It’s OK with Powell if you want to sing "Happy Birthday" to yourself while you do it, but he’d rather you count than sing kiddie songs.

• Paper towels: The blow-dryers disperse microorganisms into the air and they don’t get your hands dry, says Dr. Powell. Paper towels are better. But don’t bother using one to hold the bathroom door handle as you go out: The door handle surface isn’t a particularly great place for bacteria to grow.

Bathroom instructions for men and women

How to properly use a public bathroom continues to be a source of mystery to many. Many proprietors have found it necessary to issue reminders regarding proper use of facilities, and to explain the difference between men and women, which may account for different levels of publicly observed handwashing compliance.

(A post on foodsafe-l last night attempts to explain that “When women use the restroom it is a more septic process than when men urinate. Women need to wash their hands more frequently than men.”)

Dirty thumbs: sent from my Blackberry

barfblog.com reader – and now several-time commenter – writes why do the Dirty Thumbers — the important individuals at work, at the mall, in a restaurant and other public venues – have to type away on their smart phone while pooping. So many times have I heard the clickity clack of a Blackberry scroll ball coming from the stall next to me or better yet the guy at the urinal with the smart phone in one hand and …

There was this one time I was at the urinal and felt my Blackberry vibrate in my pocket.

Of course I looked –after I washed my hands- outside of the restroom, in the hall, and it was an email from a fellow co-worker. A well written and concise message about a project he is working on with me. As I placed my Blackberry back in my pocket I was abruptly greeted by that same coworker exiting the restroom. He was obviously just in the crapper thumbing away. After an awkward glance and me now realizing he was a Dirty Thumber, I walked back to my desk and wondered to myself… “if I ever found this guy laying face down on the street and I didn’t have my phone but his was readily available, could I bring myself to calling 911 on his?.” Al Bundy use to say his best thoughts came to him while sitting on the throne…may be that is true for some people. However, if someone wants to make a smart phone smarter….engineer it out of antimicrobial parts.


Who needs a iPad? I’ve got my 17-inch computer and an inviting urinal

The iPad is all the rage, but I just don’t get it. Amy’s got her iPhone, and it has a camera, so she doesn’t care; me, I figured out how to take my 17-inch MacBook Pro everywhere, including the bathroom, years ago. It may not be subtle, but it works.

For those of you looking to better combine your computing and recreational experiences, Albert Amgar of France and friend of bites.ksu.edu sends along this video.