The 'Licking Challenge' is Another Reason to Switch From Bulk Items


Is your organization still using bulk supplies? Better be careful: They may prove too alluring to be resisted by some people who just "need" to lick them.

In the latest in strange, antisocial behavior, people are being caught opening containers and licking the contents. Examples include a tongue depressor and cartons of ice cream.


While the likelihood of your organization encountering such an individual is low, these incidents serve as a reminder of the risks associated with using bulk items. When bulk supplies are not individually wrapped, such as tongue depressors and cotton balls or gauze pads (in containers for use with refillable alcohol dispensers; see example image), they are a source of hand contamination when healthcare workers reach into the container repeatedly. They are also subject to contamination in other ways, including having their containers knocked over, spilling the contents, and, more recently, the "licking challenge."

Infection Control Consulting Services (ICCS) advises clients and all healthcare organizations still using bulk items to consider switching to individually wrapped. While individually wrapped supplies are likely to be a bit more expensive, the savings captured does not justify the potential contamination risk posed by these items.