Global Handwashing Day: Why Hand Hygiene Is Important For Food Safety?


October 15 is the Global Handwashing Day and theme for 2018 centres around the association between handwashing and food including food hygiene and nutrition. Handwashing is an important hand hygiene technique that helps in preventing disease and keeps your food safe.

Keeping your hands clean is one of the most important steps to avoid getting sick and spreading germs to others. Not washing your hands properly with soap increases the risk of many diseases and skin conditions. Regular handwashing particularly before and after certain activities is effective in preventing germs like bacteria and viruses.

Handwashing technique includes the 6 steps according to the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention).

1. Wet your hands with clean, running water and not cloudy water.
2. Apply enough soap and lather your hands by rubbing them together.
3. Lather the back of your hands, between your fingers and under your nails.
4. Scrub your hands for at least 20 seconds.
5. Rinse both your hands well under running water.
6. Dry your hands by using a clean towel or an air dryer.

In restaurants, the spread of germs from the hands of food workers is the leading cause of food-borne illnesses. In fact, 89 per cent outbreaks of food-borne illnesses are contaminated by food workers. Proper washing of hands can reduce germs on the workers' hands.

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) advises that hands should be washed before making food and gloves should be used while preparing food. The FDA also advises that hands should be washed after eating, drinking, using tobacco, preparing raw animal products, handling dirty equipment, etc.

The CDC recommends that restaurant management and food safety programs should work to improve the handwashing rates particularly after handling raw meat as raw meat contains the E.coli bacteria which causes gastrointestinal problems.

It's essential to always wash your hands with lukewarm water and soap before starting to prepare food, after touching raw food, after going to the toilet, after touching the pets and the dustbin. This will prevent the bacteria from spreading in the kitchen and onto the food.

Before starting to prepare food, keep your worktops, kitchen utensils and chopping boards spick-and-span. If they have been touched by eggs, raw meat and poultry wash and clean them thoroughly. Wash dishcloths more often to avoid any bacteria growing on the material. While you are done with these activities wash your hands thoroughly.

Raw foods like fish, meat and poultry contain bacteria that can spread very easily by touching other foods, worktops, knives and chopping boards. And avoid keeping raw foods separate from ready-to-eat food like salad, bread and fruits as they will not be cooked before you eat them. Also, wash your hands after touching raw foods before eating ready-to-eat foods.

Always remember you should wash your hands before eating food, before, during and after preparing food.

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