A day in the life – retrospectively

Saturday 20th June

Things to reflect on this day…

Chris Evans taking over Top Gear. I think he’ll certainly polarise the audience, not those who are petrol heads and those who are not but those who love Chris Evans and those who don’t. I actually don’t fall in to either category but I will not watch the programme because I liked Top Gear as it was and I can just imagine the new version being TFI Friday on wheels. Yuk! I wait in anticipation for whatever Clarkson Hammond and May can come up with to entertain us in the future.

Contraband. Every time I go into Ikea I help myself to tape measures and pencils. I find the Ikea pencil definitely superior to those of Argos or Screwix and very useful for all sorts of things. It was only the other day when purchasing another piece for my new kitchen that I observed a plastic carton at the checkout desk asking customers to place used pencils in there. Well, of course, my stash of four or five remained in my handbag legitimately because they were unused but they prompted the contraband comment from my son. I wrote the notes for this blog with one of said Ikea pencils.

Now, with my infection control head on and considering the material of the pencils (wood), I could make a case for not making them available for re-use. The wood is porous, the ends  may be chewed and our hands are generally dirty or germ laden so we can assume the pencils are contaminated to varying degrees. Re-using them is just spreading the  risk of cross contamination to other people.If Ikea are to persist with the idea of re-use then maybe they should make hand sanitation available for  use at the checkout after customers have placed them in the pot.

Hand sanitizers may not be as effective when hands are visibly dirty or greasy.

a small magnifying glassWhy? Many studies show that hand sanitizers work well in clinical settings like hospitals, where hands come into contact with germs but generally are not heavily soiled or greasy 1.  Some data also show that hand sanitizers may work well against certain types of germs on slightly soiled hands. However, hands may become very greasy or soiled in community settings, such as after people handle food, play sports, work in the garden, or go camping or fishing. When hands are heavily soiled or greasy, hand sanitizers may not work well. Handwashing with soap and water is recommended in such circumstances CDC.

That airline

I’m currently on a flight back from Spain having spent the last 13 days doing yet more work at the Spanish house. We still didn’t get everything done that we wanted but some progress was made. The dip pool is now tiled and grouted but we can’t fill it with water for two weeks. Let’s hope it’s water tight when we do! Anyway, back to our hosts, Ryanair. At this time of year there is never enough food left for the  passengers on the late return flight to the UK. I know you have to be really desperate to eat on any flight but today we were hungry and the only thing left was chicken sandwiches. In normal circumstances I would say ‘no’ to airline food and ‘no’ to any sandwich with lettuce or salad in it because if the latter is washed properly there tends to be water left on it that finds its way nicely to your sandwich to make it disgustingly soggy. The juice from the tomato doesn’t help either. To get round this problem the producers solution is to smother everything in mayonnaise and create a barrier to protect the bread. Does it work? Today it did for me. The granary bread was fresh, the chicken identifiable and not a trace of  sogginess. All hail Ryanair’s sandwich supplier! I do wonder though, was the lettuce washed and did someone actually dry it and then was it inspected to ensure my sandwich wouldn’t be soggy? I doubt it. I once went to a seminar on food hygiene where an eminent speaker suggested that our salad vegetables should be washed in a weak solution of hypochlorite to reduce the risk of ingesting contaminants such as E. Coli a common cause of diarrhoeal illness. This is not generally accepted but the thorough rinsing with water is most important.

Just a couple more things to say about Ryanair who probably don’t have much of an infection control policy…the tray tables were dirty and…I never saw any attempt by any of the staff to wash their hands. The cabin stewards served food and drinks and handled money without any hand hygiene at all. You watch them and see.


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