Food safety – the huge importance of effective hand washing

Washing hands with a Teal Stallette portable unit

Many food poisoning outbreaks attributed to poor employee hand hygiene

A very interesting recent article on the Food Engineering Magazine website begins with the cautionary tale that’s over a hundred years old – that of Typhoid Mary, described as a “chronic carrier of salmonella” who, unfortunately, was also a cook.

Wherever she worked, a procession of illness broke out, due in no small measure to the fact that hand washing was not an activity that she concerned herself with.

The report by Richard F. Stier focusses on the very useful acronym STARC, which should be familiar to everyone who prepares food.

  • S – Supply
  • T – Training/Education
  • A – Area
  • R – Ratio
  • C – Compliance

For the purpose of this piece, we’ll focus on the Supply aspect. The initial element according to Stier, is a significant one.

“The first step for handwashing compliance is to obtain proper handwashing sinks or units.”

The preference is for hands-free units, which initiate the flow of water without the need to touch taps. it is also important that the flow of warm water takes place on demand, without the need for waiting on behalf of the user.

“Warm water enhances the efficiency of handwashing. It helps melt fat on hands, enhances the creation of lather and makes the process more comfortable.”

A cold water wash might not be so diligently or effectively undertaken.

Soap dispensers and, ideally, disposable paper towels (with a conveniently placed waste bin) are also an important part of the equation says the article.

Teach effective hand washing to ALL staff

The Training and Education element is also vitally important, according to the report. Quite simply, acceptable levels of hygiene will not be achieved anywhere without it.

“One subject that must be addressed with all, even office workers, is handwashing.” Education should emphasise not only how to wash effectively (for a minimum of twenty seconds), but why hands should be washed well in the first place.

Don’t overlook the role of handwashing in food safety »

Teal Stallette hand wash unit at Burrow Farm Shop in Devon
A Teal Stallette hands free activated wash unit at Burrow Farm Shop in Devon

Portable hand wash units with hands free activation for food suppliers

It is so important to have effective hand washing facilities available at the point of need.

TEAL’s portable sinks are the perfect solution for the food-related and catering industries. The comprehensive range meets the most exacting requirements of any Environmental Health Officer and includes:-

The TEAL range of mobile sinks for caterers »