The Dirtiest Place for Lunch

We try to avoid restaurants with poor health reports, but no one can avoid the bacteria found here.

A recent survey from the American Dietetic Association and ConAgra Foods’ Home Food Safety program found that a majority of Americans (62%) eat lunch at their desks. Twenty-seven percent of respondents said they typically have breakfast at their desks too, and 4% dine at their desktop for dinner.  

However, the ADA and ConAgra report that only 36% of Americans clean their work areas weekly, and 64% do so only once a month or less. Only half say they always wash their hands before eating lunch.  A University of Arizona study from 2007 found the average desktop has 100 times more bacteria than a kitchen table and 400 times more than the average toilet seat.  

Two-thirds (67%) of those surveyed say the office refrigerator is where they store their lunch. However, approximately one in five people admit they don’t know if it is ever cleaned or say it is rarely or never cleaned. In addition, the survey found 49% of respondents admit to letting perishable food sit out for three or more hours, meaning foods may have begun to spoil before the first bite.   

The survey was conducted with a random sample of 2,191 full-time employees, both men and women, who work at a desk. For the Executive Summary of the 2011 Desktop Dining Survey results, e-mail