Global handwashing day – the importance of clean hands

Blog | 14 October 2016

Global Handwashing Day takes place tomorrow (15th October).  It’s an annual global advocacy day dedicated to increasing awareness and understanding about the importance of hand washing with soap as an easy, effective and affordable way to prevent diseases and save lives.

In most food processing or food service environments the handling of food is commonplace and often impossible to avoid. Cross-contamination by the transfer of pathogenic or food spoilage organisms can be a significant issue. Hands are one of the most common vehicles for transfer of microorganisms to high-risk products and can become contaminated in a number of ways. Lack of hand washing when required and not following a correct hand washing procedure are the most common problems observed.

The objective of the food handler when washing their hands should be to reduce the number of transient bacteria to a safe level. Effective hand washing relies on friction and dilution to achieve this.

A single wash procedure is required after the following situations:

  • Touching hair, nose, mouth or ears
  • Eating, smoking, coughing or blowing nose
  • Handling waste
  • Light cleaning tasks
  • Handling external packaging
  • Before and after putting gloves on
  • Touching dirty surfaces (there may be instances where a double hand wash procedure is required)
  • Handling money

A hand wash procedure involves the following stages:

  • Wet hands thoroughly
  • Apply soap and produce lather
  • Rub hands and fingertips vigorously ensuring the fingertips, around the nails, between fingers around the thumbs, the forearm and wrists are thoroughly massaged (this should take approx. 20 seconds)
  • The hands should be thoroughly rinsed under free flowing warm water for about 10 seconds.
  • The hands must be thoroughly dried

And for hand washing to be effective it must be carried out consistently throughout the day. As the theme for this year’s campaign says ‘Make Handwashing A Habit’.

For further details click here