Study to Assess the Prevention of Microbial Cross-Contamination From Tables to Utensils Using Flatware Rests


Restaurants serve more than 70 billion meals in the U.S. each year. Annually, approximately 48 million foodborne illnesses occur in the U.S., yet only over 800 foodborne disease outbreaks get reported. From 1998–2013, 56% of the 17,445 outbreaks reported were associated with restaurants. While scientifically validated cleaning and sanitation strategies are available, microbial cross-contamination from environmental surfaces remains an issue. For instance, previous research shows that the cleaning tool itself can become a source of contamination. The objective of this study was to test if a flatware rest provides a physical barrier between contaminated tabletop surfaces and eating utensils. Data confirmed that flatware rests prevented the contamination of utensils from microorganisms when compared with utensils placed directly on surfaces inoculated with E. coli, Salmonella Typhimurium, and MS2 bacteriophage (a surrogate for norovirus). This study demonstrates that flatware rests are a practical solution to prevent cross-contamination of foodborne pathogens from tabletop to utensil, and potentially are an added layer of consumer protection.


Speaker / Author: 
Giselle Almeida, Division of Agriculture, University of Arkansas
Sarah L. Jones, Division of Agriculture, University of Arkansas
Kristen E. Gibson, PhD, Division of Agriculture, University of Arkansas
Month Year: 
November 2019
Page #: 
Publication Month: 
November 2019
EH Topics: