Q. I am trying hard to avoid catching a cold or the flu. I was shocked to see the barista at the coffee shop grab my cup by the edge and then press the lid on with her palm. That wouldn’t be so bad if she hadn’t just made change. I wonder how many people get sick and never associate it with their coffee cup.
A. People have strong opinions about this issue. Many readers share your concern, especially if they want to sip from the cup through the lid. Others think it is silly to worry about germs on coffee cup lids.
It is relatively easy to transmit microbes via coffee cups. A study conducted at the University of Virginia demonstrated that half of the volunteers touching contaminated coffee cup handles caught colds (American Journal of Epidemiology, Nov. 1982).
Cold viruses can last up to several days on surfaces such as light switches, door handles, TV remotes, pens, faucets or phones (Journal of Medical Virology, Oct. 2007). Avoiding a cold or the flu requires washing hands and keeping them away from eyes, nose and mouth.