We’ve all been told we need to wash our hands for almost as long as we can remember. Giving our hands a rinse after using the bathroom or before dinner is second nature, but very few people know why washing our hands is so important and most have never been taught the correct method. Hand washing and sanitation becomes even more important in the food industry whether in manufacturing, canteen, or working in a kitchen.
Why Washing Our Hands is So Important?
Our hands come into contact with other objects more than any other part of our body. We are touching things from the moment we wake up until we fall asleep at night without a thought on what diseases we may come into contact with from hundreds of different items such as door handles, money, keyboards, rails, phones, and even the seats we use on public transport. None of these items, and the hundreds more we missed, are sterile and their surfaces can contain up to millions of different bacteria that could be harmful to the human body. Most bacteria are spread by hand-to-hand or hand-to-food contact, so it’s vital to know when and how to wash your hands to help minimise risk of transmitting serious, and even potentially fatal, diseases.
What Diseases Can Be Transmitted by Hand?
A large range of serious diseases and infections are transmitted by dirty hands or from incorrectly washed hands. Some of them include:
|· Hepatitis A
· Intestinal infections
· Typhoid fever
When Do You Wash Your Hand?
You need to wash your hands thoroughly:
- After using the toilet
- After arriving at work
- Before, during, and after food preparation
- In between handling any raw meat or raw egg
- In between handling raw and cooked foods
- In between handling raw and ready-to-eat foods
- After handling soiled equipment or food utensils
- After using a tissue or handkerchief
- After handling rubbish
- After smoking
- After eating
- After coughing or sneezing
- After cleaning up the food preparation area
- Any time you think your hands may become contaminated
Correct Hand Washing Technique
It is important to follow the correct hand washing technique:
- Wet hands with clean running water
- Lather hands with soap for a minimum of 20 seconds, making sure to rub the backs of your hands, between fingers, around your wrists, and under your fingernails. If possible, remove any jewellery and your watch beforehand as bacteria can exist under them
- Thoroughly rinse hands under clean running water until all soap has been removed
- Immediately dry hands using either a paper towel or air dry them. Cloth towels are not preferred as they can contain harmful bacteria
- If you were unable to remove any rings or other jewellery, make sure the area underneath is also dry
Liquid soap is preferred over bar soap due to the possibility of contamination, but bar soap is always better than none. It is important to note that antibacterial soap does not provide any extra benefit when it comes to removing harmful transient bacteria and germs over regular soap.
Washing hands is one of the most important aspects of food safety and infection control and should be practiced diligently. Physical signs and training should be offered to all people involved in any form of food handling to help minimise the risk of the spread of pathogenic bacteria and disease.
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