Sanitisers are ineffective against the food-borne virus says guidance
Public health officials in the USA are concerned about a rise in norovirus infection levels – particularly amongst those working in the food service and catering industries, according to a recent report on the Food Safety News website.
A recent alert was posted by the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) which warned of the need for frequent and diligent soap and water hand washing in order to help contain the spread of the illness, says the article.
Those targeting by the alert include members of the public, caterers and restaurateurs.
This follows on from a significant norovirus surge in preschool facilities in Victoria, Australia, where a switch to hand sanitisers at the expense of soap and water washing has been largely blamed for its spread.
Wash with soap and running water
With the understandable focus on the coronavirus pandemic, it seems that other communicable diseases “are still a problem” advises the report, which affirms that the soap and running water option is by far the most effective form of infection control.
The MDH is quoted as saying that food establishment employees should “Follow Handwashing for Employees procedures, and wash hands often” in order to prevent customer outbreaks.
MDH’s guidance Handwashing for Employees advocates a 20 second soap and water hand wash, with a separate sink, advising “Do not use handwashing sinks for any other purpose.”
Hand antiseptics “are not a replacement for proper handwashing.”
Similarly, in the UK, NHS guidance is clear that the use of hand gels and sanitisers is not the most suitable method of norovirus infection control.
“Washing your hands frequently with soap and water is the best way to stop it spreading. Alcohol hand gels do not kill norovirus.”
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