Proper Handwashing and Food Safety

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.

Global Handwashing Day

Did you know that October 15 is Global Handwashing Day? Global Handwashing Day is an annual 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.

Global Handwashing Day Infographic

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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]

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.

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

Additional Handwashing Resources


Handwashing Video

Posters and Handouts