Proper Handwashing and Food Safety

Keeping hands clean is one of the most important steps we can take to avoid getting sick and spreading germs to others. Many diseases and conditions are spread by not washing hands with soap and clean, running water.

Hand washing is essential in preventing contamination of food by food handlers. Harmful bacteria such as E. coli, Salmonella, and other viruses or toxins present on the hands of food workers are removed by proper hand washing techniques.

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Image Source: Shutterstock

 

Global Handwashing Day

Global Handwashing Day is observed annually October 15th. Global Handwashing Day is a global advocacy effort dedicated to increasing awareness and understanding about the importance of handwashing with soap as an easy, effective, and affordable way to prevent diseases and save lives.

Whether you are at home, at work, traveling, or already sick, find out how good hand hygiene can protect you, your family, and others.

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Credit: The Global Handwashing Partnership (GHP)

Washing hands prevents illnesses and spread of infections to others

Handwashing with soap removes germs from hands. This helps prevent infections because:
  • People frequently touch their eyes, nose, and mouth without even realizing it. Germs can get into the body through the eyes, nose and mouth and make us sick.
  • Germs from unwashed hands can get into foods and drinks while people prepare or consume them. Germs can multiply in some types of foods or drinks, under certain conditions, and make people sick.
  • Germs from unwashed hands can be transferred to other objects, like handrails, table tops, or toys, and then transferred to another person’s hands.
  • Removing germs through handwashing therefore helps prevent diarrhea and respiratory infections and may even help prevent skin and eye infections.
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Image Source: Shutterstock

 

Proper Handwashing for Food Handlers

The spread of germs from the hands of food handling and service workers to food is an important cause of foodborne illness outbreaks in restaurants. In fact, it caused 89% of outbreaks in which food was contaminated by food workers. Source: CDC [PDF]

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Proper handwashing can reduce germs on workers’ hands. It can also reduce the spread of germs from hands to food and from food to other people.

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Image Source: Shutterstock

How often should food workers wash their hands?

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) advises that hands should be washed as often as necessary and always before:

  • Before preparing or making food
  • Before putting on gloves to prepare or make food
  • Before starting work

FDA also advises that hands be washed after:

  • After eating, drinking or smoking
  • After blowing nose, sneezing or coughing
  • After handling dirty equipment
  • After handling waste
  • After cleaning duties
  • After using the toilet
  • After handling money
  • After touching the body (such as scratching your nose).

Proper Handwashing Steps

Proper handwashing can greatly reduce the risk of spreading bacteria. A proper handwashing routine include these 5 steps:

1. Wet hands
2. Lather with soap
3. Scrub for at least 20 seconds
4. Rinse for 10 seconds
5. Dry with clean towel

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Credit: Twitter - FDA Food

Additional Handwashing Resources