The importance of effective hand washing when working with food

Hygienius mobile hand washing units for caterers

“Hand hygiene is simple, yet vital” says report

Preventing contamination in the workplace is essential for food handlers everywhere to mark World Hand Hygiene Day earlier this month, The Australian Institute of Food Safety (AIFS) followed up with an advisory article World Hand Hygiene Day: The Basics of Hand Washing, which features a number of easy to manage tips for preventing food poisoning outbreaks.

The report begins by emphasising that everyone involved in the production and preparation of food should adhere to hand washing protocols – “not just those directly touching food”. Soap and water washing is a responsibility for everyone it says – and it should be carried out both diligently and regularly.

“There should be no excuses for not washing your hands well and often: it’s a basic action that could even help save lives.”

Why you should not rely on sanitisers

Hands must be washed for at least 20 seconds, says the article, which details appropriate washing and scrubbing techniques: it also points out how vital it is to dry hands properly afterwards. This is described as a “critical step” in the cleansing process.

“Even after they’ve been scrubbed and rinsed, wet hands are known to carry 1000 times more pathogens than dry hands.”

The report also cautions against the reliance on sanitisers, with soap and water washing being “the most effective method for killing bacteria and other harmful pathogens”. Whilst gels can achieve some level of pathogen reduction, they are not effective on dirty or previously unwashed hands.

“It’s important to remember that sanitiser is not a suitable substitute for soap.”

A warning also states that sanitisers can also lead to chemical contamination, according to a separate report by the AIFS.

Separate sinks for hand washing

Hand washing stations should be available to all staff – suitably signposted – that are only used for hand washing. Hands should never be washed in a food preparation sinks.

“Workplaces must ensure that designated hand washing stations are available and easily accessible to staff.”

World Hand Hygiene Day: The Basics of Hand Washing »

The Super Stallette mobile hand washing unit is ideal for any deli or food outlet
The Super Stallette mobile hand washing unit is ideal for any deli or food outlet

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