Restoring public understanding of hygiene is key to hygiene behaviour change
A policy paper published by the Royal Society of Public Health in June 2019 shows how confused we have become about our microbial world, and why this needs to be urgently addressed.
On one hand we are told we need exposure to microbes to build a healthy microbiome in our gut, on our skin and so on. The reason is that failure to do so is an underlying cause of rising levels of diseases ranging from allergies to diabetes to depression, But it’s not, as many people believe, because of our obsession with cleanliness. On the other hand we are told that we mustn’t relax standards of hygiene – far from it – it’s a key part of the strategy to tackle the global problem of AMR by reducing the need for antibiotic prescribing.
The problem is that we are not really sure what “being hygienic” means. We don’t really understand the difference between hygiene and cleanliness.
At the Hygiene Forum in Wageningen, Netherlands on October 15th Sally Bloomfield (Chairman of the International Scientific Forum on Home Hygiene and Honorary Professor, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine) and Nina Veflen (Professor of Marketing at BI Norwegian Business School, Oslo, Norway and adjunct senior researcher at Nofima, Norway) hosted a workshop which presented studies examining aspects of consumer understanding of hygiene, and how this affects their hygiene behaviour. As part of the workshop they carried out a short pilot questionnaire to elucidate the opinions of those attending the workshop.
The slide decks from the presentations and the results of the questionnaire can be downloaded below
Both Professor Veflen and Professor Bloomfield are involved in the EU Horizon 2020 project on food safety (https://cordis.europa.eu/project/rcn/210495/factsheet/en)