Washing Your Hands Effectively
It is absolutely imperative that food handlers wash their hand frequently throughout the working day. This is one of the most simple, yet absolutely essential principles of food safety. There can potentially be millions of bacteria on your hands at any one time! Bacteria are measured in micrometres (µm). There are 1000 µm in 1 millimetre (mm). The average spherical bacterium measures on average around 1µm in diameter. Therefore, bacteria are far too small to be seen by the naked eye. Some of these are harmful (pathogens) and when they are transferred onto food, they can cause food poisoning.
Bacteria, however, can be eliminated with a simple an effective hand washing technique:
- Wet hands thoroughly
- Use liquid soap
- Rub hands vigorously – especially the nails, fingertips and thumbs (it is the vigour in handwashing which is effective (this should take at least 40 seconds – 1 minute)
- Rinse hands thoroughly
- Dry hands completely using a paper towel
- Turn the tap off using the paper towel!
- Bin the towel!
Handwashing: – when to wash your hands – keeping your hands clean and the food safe!
Before entering a food room or handling food
After using the toilet
After taking a break, eating or smoking
After handling raw food
Before handling cooked, ready-to-eat food
After handling a dressing or changing a waterproof plaster
After handling boxes and food packaging
After handling waste or refuse
After cleaning or using cleaning chemicals
After coughing, sneezing or touching any other part of your body
After dealing with someone who is ill
After handling known allergens
Whilst such an obvious point to make, nevertheless, it is a very important one: Get into the habit of washing your hands correctly, often and always. Knowledge of hand hygiene and handwashing per se, without practice, is useless and at worst, dangerous! It’s a sad fact that many cases of food poisoning could have been avoided if the food handlers involved would have simply washed their hands!