Now wash your hands ...

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British claims to be the cleanest people in Europe have been knocked back by a study of bathroom habits, which shows that nearly one-third of Britons do not wash their hands after using the lavatory.

Research by Westminster University also showed a big difference between the sexes, with 41 per cent of men not washing their hands, compared with 19 per cent of women. The poorest results were at fast-food outlets, where almost half of men did not wash their hands.

The Dirty Deeds study was taken of 300 men and women in fast-food shops, railway stations, pubs, motorway service stations and department stores.

Similar surveys on mainland Europe showed an average of 27 per cent in Germany, France, Holland and Switzerland did not wash their hands.

A member of the research team, Keith Redway, said: "Failing to wash hands properly in soap and water after using the toilet greatly increases the risk of contracting harmful disease forming germs including Salmonella and E.coli 0157, the strain behind the fatal outbreak in Scotland."