National Food Safety Month: Week 2- Handwashing

Editors Note: The second week of National Food Safety Month focuses on “Preventing Cross-Contamination Through Handwashing”. In addition to the activities and training guides that can be found on the official website, we at RJ Schinner are doing our part to educate the public on safe, proper food handling techniques.

Everyone is taught at a young age how to wash their hands, but when it comes to foodservice, the methods used for basic handwashing aren’t necessarily enough. According to the FDA website, a “study published in 2004 found food establishments were frequently out of compliance with the Food Code requirements for proper and adequate handwashing. In the study, the percent of food establishments observed to be out of compliance with handwashing requirements ranged from 34% in hospitals to 73% in full-service establishments.”

This news is not surprising, considering many foodservice establishments take for granted that their employees know and practice proper handwashing techniques, and offer limited training on such a critical step in the food prep process. Some tips for foodservice managers to encourage good hygiene include:

  • Make food employees aware of media coverage on local and national foodborne outbreaks. This awareness reinforces the reporting of symptoms, illness, and good handwashing procedures.
  • Create opportunities to remind food employees each week about the importance of hand hygiene.
  • Emphasize handwashing at the beginning of a shift, after using the toilet, after handling raw meat, and between changes of gloves. This emphasis will help keep good hand hygiene at the forefront.
  • Use a “buddy” system so that fellow food employees can support each other.
  • Use training and incentive programs to motivate food employees to take ownership and practice good personal hygiene habits.

As further food for thought, another hygienic practice that’s grown in the last decade is the use of hand sanitizers. While the FDA states that hand sanitizers are acceptable to use alone when cleaning hands in the healthcare industry, it doesn’t cut the mustard when it comes to foodservice; “Hand sanitizers, meeting specific criteria described in section 2-301.16 of the Food Code, may be used after proper hand washing in retail and food service,” because “existing data do not demonstrate that alcohol-based hand gel effectively reduces important infectious foodborne pathogens at levels that occur on food workers’ hands, especially if the hands are soiled with fatty and proteinaceous materials.”

The CDC points to the infamous Noro-virus as the leading cause of foodborne illness, and transmission and spread of these infections can be easily prevented with intelligent, thorough handwashing techniques. When you wash your hands can be just as important as how, and by following and enforcing proper guidelines, you’re more likely to prevent cross-contamination. When to wash includes:

  • When entering a food preparation area;
  • Before putting on clean, single-use gloves for working with food and between glove changes;
  • Before engaging in food preparation;
  • Before handling clean equipment and serving utensils;
  • When changing tasks and switching between handling raw foods and working with RTE foods;
  • After handling soiled dishes, equipment, or utensils;
  • After touching bare human body parts, for example, parts other than clean hands and clean, exposed portions of arms;
  • After using the toilet;
  • After coughing, sneezing, blowing the nose, using tobacco, eating, or drinking; and
  • After caring for or handling services animals or aquatic animals such as molluscan shellfish or crustacea in display tanks.

By following the proper guidelines, preventing cross-contamination and food-borne illness is a piece of cake. RJ Schinner proudly offers a large variety of disposable toweling and dispensers, hand soaps, sanitizers, and disposable gloves to protect you, as well as your customers, from dangerous bacterial and viral contamination. Visit RJSchinner.com for more information on our product offerings to keep you safe during food safety month, and beyond.

 

For the full FDA report, click here.

© Copyright Amy Ullsperger, All rights Reserved. Written For: DSR Sales Support Blog

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