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How antimicrobial ironmongery could prevent you from catching a stomach bug

Would you like that stomach bug to-go? Why you might get more than just a latte when grabbing a quick break at your local coffee shop.

A woman sitting on a bed with her hands over her stomach
Ever wondered how you managed to pick up a random stomach bug?

Have you ever wondered how you managed to pick up a random stomach bug? It usually happens when least convenient – perhaps on a much looked forward to Saturday. It is always difficult to remember where you were infected, but it can ruin far more than a planned weekend, especially if you are already vulnerable or immune-compromised.

About 50% of all outbreaks of food-related illness are caused by norovirus. Most of these outbreaks occur in food service settings like restaurants and where food and drink are consumed.

News article from Reuters with the heading "UK says norovirus cases sharply rise in England)
At the start of the year, England experienced higher than average norovirus cases (Reuters, February 2023)

We’ve all been there. So, how does this happen? According to research there are three primary ways:

  1. The first is what most people think about when catching an illness: through direct contact with someone who is infected with a stomach bug such as Norovirus. This could be something as simple as caring for them or sharing food or eating utensils with them.

  2. The next one that jumps to mind is when we have eaten food or had a drink contaminated with norovirus or something equally as nasty.

  3. The third one is one most people think of last, if at all, but it is recognised as a route by medical professionals: through touching contaminated surfaces (a countertop or doorknob, for example) and then putting your fingers in your mouth.

The most contaminated surfaces in public bathrooms probably aren't the ones you think

When using a WC in the ubiquitous coffee shops, people often worry about the toilet seat being a source of ‘germs’, but the lavatory itself is probably one of the least contaminated surfaces, because it is mainly in contact with other parts of our anatomy (sorry about this) well, we all know which ones.

The real problem are other surfaces with which we come into contact.

The above images are from some of the most popular coffee shops in the UK – in these cases South London. Not exactly great for a place that serves food and drink, is it?

And yet Doctors and other health professionals are usually sanguine about such places, heavily used by the public. ‘Just use good hygiene practices – wash your hands thoroughly and you’ll be fine…’ they say. Mostly this is true.

Except when it isn’t – and herein lies the problem.

Picture this: you’ve washed your hands as carefully instructed, and are about to leave the WC. But you then must open the door with your freshly sanitised hands, using the door handle and probably turning the lock that has been touched countless times by others. So, you now face the prospect of contaminating yourself all over again. We tend to touch our faces and put our fingers in our mouths unconsciously. This can be up to 23 times per hour according to one study in Australia.

We should all be concerned about this for good reason. Statistics show that around 15% of people don’t wash their hands after using the WC, and even more after sneezing or blowing their nose. Most of these WCs are gender neutral, but (sorry about this) the culprits are mainly male. And it’s not just stomach bugs; research shows that in 40–90% cases, adults infected with rhinovirus (the cause of the common cold) have it on their hands. Many who work locally to these places happily fall in the younger demographic and have little to fear statistically.

But, the same cannot be said for the very young, older, and vulnerable people with health challenges who have less resistance to such opportunistic infections. Disabled people are more vulnerable than the able bodied, and more susceptible to infection.

Look at the specialist disabled handrail fittings below...

The red emergency pull cord and disabled grab rails in a public bathroom
Specialist disabled handrail fittings in the WC of a coffee shop

We all have loved ones who are susceptible, and we would not hesitate to take whatever measures available to protect them. There is a simple, low-cost solution to the areas we touch the most that can harbour pathogenic organisms due to lack of hygiene and prevent diseases spread.

That is why we are contacting every coffee chain to ensure they replace their current WCs with antimicrobial ironmongery and disabled access fittings – for everyone's protection.

Playing your part: stomach bug prevention starts with Antimicrobial Ironmongery

Harmful microbes can remain active and replicate on the surfaces of common touch points in public buildings. This includes items such as door handles, push plates, WC indicating bolts, and washroom fittings. When specifying these items for projects in high traffic spaces such as offices, hospitals, and schools, there is a need for a more hygienic approach ­to reduce opportunities for bacterial growth and prevent those stomach bugs.

Research has shown that SARS-CoV-2 (the virus that causes COVID-19) remains active on door handles and furniture for more than 72 hours. Many other microbes including E. coli and the MRSA superbug can survive for many hours, days and in some cases even weeks on non-porous surfaces.

Antimicrobial Ironmongery is proven to inhibit the growth of most types of harmful bacteria, including E. coli and MRSA, as well as the SARS-CoV-2 virus, on the treated surfaces of these touch points. The inbuilt surface protection works 24/7 and is effective for the lifetime of the product.

This means that users of your building, whether that be staff, visitors, or other members of the public, can benefit from a more hygienic environment.

It is said that plumbers have saved more lives than doctors. History shows that it is the simplest, most basic ideas that can have the most impact. Clean water and waste management for instance. It is estimated that these saved more people than vaccines and antibiotics put together.

We can all play a part in keeping those most at risk safe, by making sensible decisions.

It’s up to you.


Poole Waite’s Self-Sanitising Antimicrobial Ironmongery Range, proven to be effective against SARS-CoV-2, E. coli, MRSA, and many more harmful bacteria, offers a solution to those who wish to create more hygienic working and living environments.

Performance testing

Products from our Self-Sanitising Antimicrobial Ironmongery Range have been independently tested for efficacy against SARS-CoV-2.

  • The test results show a reduction in SARS-CoV-2 on the surface of >80% after 2 hours when compared to a stainless steel control, when tested to ISO 21702:2019.

This shows our protective coating pro-actively inhibits the growth of SARS-CoV-2 on the treated surface of our ironmongery, making these products more hygienic.

We have had our Matt Black, Matt White and Clear Coat powder coated products independently tested on their antimicrobial performance. Tests for contact times of both 10 minutes and 2 hours were conducted at an ambient temperature (20⁰C – 22⁰C), using MRSA and E. coli bacteria.

  • For MRSA, a reduction of >99.99% was achieved within 10 minutes on all types of plate. This reduction was not increased after 2 hours.

  • For E. coli, a reduction of >99.999% was achieved within 10 minutes on all types of plate. There was no recovery after 2 hours.

The report concluded that the antimicrobial technology will almost entirely reduce the microbial load of most, if not all, bacteria on treated surfaces within a short time of contact.

Poole Waite & Co Ltd is now the only architectural ironmonger in the UK to offer a complete ironmongery range with proven efficacy against SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. View the range on our website

If you would like to find out more about our Antimicrobial Ironmongery, please do not hesitate to reach out to us.


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