When temperatures begin to fall, it’s usually the first sign of the long holiday season ahead. But, it’s also the start of something else — the cold and flu season. According to the Centers For Disease Control and Prevention, roughly 5 to 20 percent of the population will catch the flu virus this year, and more than 200,000 will be hospitalized with the illness.

Influenza, and its seasonal cousin, the common cold, is spread from person-to-person in the respiratory droplets from coughs and sneezes, which are then transmitted from hand to mouth. Despite efforts to educate people on proper sneezing and coughing etiquette, as well as to encourage hand hygiene, flu and cold germs are consistently found on frequently touched objects in schools, office spaces and healthcare facilities.

People often mistake restrooms as the dirtiest areas within a building, but this is not the case. In fact, it is America’s breakrooms and cafeterias that bear the highest concentration of germs, according to a 2012 study, which tested a variety of office services for adenosine triphosphate. Surfaces with ATP levels of 300 or more were considered to have high levels of contamination.

 Highly contaminated areas included breakroom sink faucet handles, microwave door handles, refrigerator door handles, water fountain buttons and vending machine buttons.

Distributors have done their best to “clean up,” these areas by helping customers to develop an aggressive cleaning and disinfecting program, or by installing well-placed and accessible hand sanitizers, but one area of the lunchroom remains highly neglected: disposable cutlery.

Cultery Dispensers Reduce Cross-contamination

Most breakrooms, office kitchens or cafeterias have large bins filled with plastic flatware, or several open dispenser cups that hold silverware. When people reach into the dispensers to select a utensil, they often touch many pieces of cutlery at one time. In addition, people are known to choose one piece of cutlery, then change their mind, and put it back, before selecting another. And unlike other items in the lunchroom — such as napkins or sauce cups — utensils go directly into the mouth, where the germs can be ingested. All of this puts people at risk for getting sick.

Even if forks, knives and spoons are individually wrapped, cafeteria visitors risk cross-contamination from the plastic wrap that contains the utensils. This may not seem like a big deal at first, but consider the results of a recent survey, which found more than 90 percent of people come to work knowing they are ill.

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Single-Use Cultery Dispensers are the 'Wave of the Future'