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According to the European Food Safety Authority, who publish annual food poisoning statistics in their journal every December, food poisoning, particularly from pathogens such as Listeria, is increasing. At the same time, it is recognised that food operatives who frequently handle raw materials can contaminate themselves by touching their faces and mouths and accidently ingest the organisms, potentially then becoming asymptomatic carriers. Good personal and hand hygiene practices are therefore seen as even more critical in preventing contamination from food handlers, particularly from those who may be ill or carrying pathogens in their gastrointestinal tract.
In the UK alone more than 23 million days are lost to employers each year through diarrhoea and vomiting. For food producers and retailers who supply contaminated product which results in isolated or large-scale food poisoning outbreaks, the consequences can be disastrous. 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 primary reason for washing hands is to prevent cross contamination of pathogens to food products and food contact equipment, which in the food industry could lead to food poisoning incidents. For further information on how to implement an effective hand washing policy download our In Safe Hands Brochure which has been compiled by the Holchem team.