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April Cartoon: Leave Your Phone Out of Food Preparation

Food handler checking phone

Cell phones are everywhere. We take our cell phones many places—school, work, and sometimes even the bathroom. They are great tools for many things, but since we use them so much, they also get dirty. In a food setting, phones are common carriers of pathogens and germs that can make people sick.

Cell phones are dirty

Did you know that cell phones can have 25,127 bacteria per square inch? When we think of cleaning things, we don’t often think of cleaning our phones. But cell phones have more bacteria per square inch than toilet seats and doorknobs.

Let’s say you take your cell phone to the bathroom with you. You set it on the counter and pick it up again after you’ve washed your hands. Do you think it could be contaminated? Absolutely! Pathogens can travel through the air, or they might be on the counter where you set your phone. By picking your phone up again, you’ve contaminated your clean hands.

Phones and safe food handling

You may have been told to leave your cell phone in the break room while you’re working. This is the best thing you can do to eliminate transferring pathogens from your phone to food. We use our phones all the time and it might be hard to think about putting it away for few hours. This is still the best way to keep food safe.

If you have your phone with you and it vibrates or rings, it’s second nature to reach out and pick it up. But as soon as you pick it up, whether you’re wearing gloves or not, your hands are now contaminated. You will need to wash your hands and change gloves. Can you imagine doing that every time you picked up your phone? You would spend a good portion of your workday just washing your hands!

Avoiding contact with anything that could contaminate your hands is the best way to keep your hands clean. You wouldn’t touch a garbage can or toilet paper and then serve a customer food. Think about your cell phone in the same way.

Do’s and don’ts of phone use for food handlers


  • Leave your phone in the break room.
  • Wash your hands after touching your phone, before handling food.
  • Focus on the task in front of you.


  • Check your phone every time it buzzes.
  • Use your phone while preparing food.
  • Assume that gloves keep food safe, even if you touch your phone.

Put customers first

When you are preparing food for a customer, preparing safe food should be the priority. Whatever is happening with your phone can wait. If there truly is an emergency, make sure your loved ones have a work phone number they can call to get ahold of you.

Remember, using your phone even when no one is around still contaminates your hands. It’s best to wait to use your phone until you are on break, or after you get off work. If you do touch your phone while working, you must wash your hands and change your gloves. This will keep your customers safe.

Check out more tips for keeping food safe in our online food handler course.

— Kylie Molen

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