Bacteria: Filthy House SOS, 1000’s of bacteria!!


For weeks now I’ve been watching Filthy House SOS getting more and more wound up and am now fed up with shouting at the TV..

I love these guys (and what woman doesn’t like good looking men doing the cleaning and tidying up) but in this series Richard and Brennan have been given a new toy..  Swabs and an ATP meter.

Adenosine Triphosphate (ATP) is present in all organic material and is the unit of energy in living cells.  Its produced and/or broken down in metabolic processes and most foods and microbial cells will contain some level of naturally occurring ATP.

The units use an enzyme found in fireflies which lights up (bioluminescence) when it comes into contact with ATP.

The boys proceed with joy to swab filthy surfaces in the kitchen then (the camera shows the result) tell the house owner of the horrifically high numbers of RLUs (relative light units) with glee and then that this means there are hundreds, thousands or millions of bacteria on the work surfaces could make someone really ill or die!

Please please will someone tell them that ATP meters CANNOT distinguish between bacterial ATP and ATP in organic matter (dirt, food particles) left on the surfaces.

MOST people do not prepare on or eat off filthy surfaces.  They would usually have a tray or plate or board on top, but I do agree that there is a possibility of cross contamination from them.

As EHO’s we would never swab a visually dirty surface because, well, its visually dirty.  The reason ATP meters are so good is that you can swab a visually clean surface and demonstrate to people that even clean surface can have bacteria on them if not cleaned and disinfected properly.

Thank you for reading

Karen Meadows of Safety in Action Ltd

Are Your Surfaces Clean?

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Food Safety Consultant | Worcestershire | West Midlands | Helping Hospitality