Food handlers need to be very careful about hand washing in order to prevent food contamination. Harmful bacteria like Salmonella, E. coli and viruses such as Norovirus can be present on human hands and these can lead to contamination during handling, ultimately causing food poisoning. And as you know food poisoning is responsible for a number of sicknesses ranging from vomiting, nausea, diarrhea, stomach ache, weakness, migraine and even fever.
Besides the usual cleaning and hygiene maintenance routine in food areas, in order to remain safe from infections practicing proper hand washing techniques is very important. To put it in a simply, proper hand washing is one of the most effective way in which you can prevent the spreading of infections through food contamination.
Know When to Wash your Hands
While its essential for food handlers to wash their hands and wrists at frequent intervals. Here are some instances when it is mandatory for them to wash –
- Before starting the preparation of food
- Before handling ready-to-eat or cooked food
- After preparation or handling of raw food
- When changing tasks, i.e. when switching from handling of raw food to ready-to-eat food. This prevents cross-contamination
- After handling waste or disposing trash
- After cleaning duties
- After handling money
- After using the washroom
- After coughing, sneezing or blowing the nose
Having an ideal Hand Washing Station
A designated hand washing station is a must in food preparation areas. It should be easily accessible. The taps should be pedaled, elbow or knee operated so that it is not required to use clean hands for touching any part of the washing station. This greatly helps in prevention of cross contamination.
Ideally, a hand washing station must have the following components:
- Foot-operated rubbish bin
- Paper towels
- Liquid soap
Steps for Proper Hand Washing
Yes, we all do wash our hands but do we follow all the steps? Did you know that Hands should be washed for a period of at least 15 to 20 seconds. And the actual steps that should be followed are –
- Wet your hands with clean, running and preferably warm water
- Use liquid soap in good quantity so as to form lather
- Rub your hands, including fingertips, thumb, wrists, in between the fingers and back of your hands
- Rub your hand for about 15 seconds. Rub vigorously
- Rinse your hands thoroughly in the running water
- Dry your hands with a paper towel
Foodborne diseases are a common norm. In spite of the fact that most people recover from such health disorders, these can lead to chronic health issues in about 4% to 5% cases. Thus observe and follow infection control practices that can help keep such diseases at bay. If you are involved with food preparation at home or a food handler (Chef, cook, kitchen and food stall assistants) at your workplace, education and awareness in this regard is of utmost importance.