When it comes to food hygiene, hand washing is one of the most important tasks a food handler can undertake, right? Well, only if it’s done properly!
Germs are all around us so it’s easy to cross-contaminate by touching body parts, a surface or food stuff, and subsequently handling other surfaces or foodstuffs. So why not just make it easy and use hand sanitizers? The claim is that they can reduce bacteria by 99.9%. But hold on, research shows that they should contain at least 60% alcohol to kill the majority of bacteria and, if not applied diligently, bacteria has been shown to remain in the creases of palms and fingers.
There really is no shortcut to washing your hands regularly, and with the proper technique, when it comes to reducing the risk of cross-contamination. Here are my four key hand washing steps:
1. Use the correct sink. This is a common mistake that I see frequently. Make sure that you use the hand washing sink, not one that's used for food preparation, especially if there is food in it!
2. Use soap! Running your hands under a tap isn't enough. Apply a good squirt of a liquid hand soap and use it to lather all of your hands.
3. Wash thoroughly. Wash all of your hands and fingers, not just a quick rinse of the finger tips and palms. How long should this be done for? A good tip is to sing ‘Happy Birthday’ to yourself, or time yourself for approximately 20 seconds. Rinse your hands thoroughly and use a disposable towel to turn the tap off to prevent re-contaminating your hand.
4. Dry your hands correctly. Use a disposable paper towel to dry your hands thoroughly. Do not use your apron, the back of your uniform or a tea towel, no matter how handy it may seem!
And remember, wash your hands regularly, especially after breaks, going to the toilet and handling raw and cooked foods.