Though we like to think of our coffee shop as a home away from home, and the other patrons sometimes become like family, we draw the line at sharing the family germs. As recently reported in the Seattle Times, “Dr. Germ” (aka Charles Gerba, PhD, ) found that a swabbing of coffee cup lids contained a surprising number of germs. Dr. Germ, from the University of Arizona, has made a career of studying toilet seats and the many other abodes of germs. He actually has found that the toilet is the less contaminated place in the office or house – think of how many times it’s disinfected compared to say, the keyboard? Since germs live for up to 72 hours, they have lots of time to get comfortable and set up their living quarters on your telephone, cell phone, handkerchiefs, purse handles etc. In terms of coffee shops, many are staffed by one lone clerk who has to do everything from barista to handling the money. If he takes the money and then with the same hand places the coffee lid on the cup, there’s a problem. Many food service workers wear the mandatory gloves, but they don’t go to the trouble of removing them when they go from food handling to money handling, so their purpose becomes useless. Money is notorious for harboring germs. Many coffee shops have solved this problem by placing the lids on a counter-top straight out of the box in which they come, letting the customer apply his own. That should cut down on the germ count a lot, as long as your own hands are clean, as well as the hands of the customer preceding you. After all, he might have touched multiple lids trying to separate one, as they tend to stick to each other. Probably the most effective way to cut down on such contamination is to carry and use your own lid or cup. Now there is the perfect item: silicone coffee lids. ROASTe has some that fit the medium size cups (http://www.roaste.com/product/MugHug/Mug-Hug-flexible-Silicone-lid-YOUR-... ) . Also, there is the travel mug which comes with its own silicone lid (http://www.roaste.com/product/Superba-Coffee/Superba-Coffee-Porcelaine-Cup ). Either of these products can be carried with you, preferably in their own clean plastic pouch or bag, and used at your favorite coffee shops. And they can be washed in the dishwasher, which can kill any residing germs after use. With cold and flu season upon us, it’s a good time to remind ourselves or the simple things we can do to better protect ourselves against the winter bugs. To your health!
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