This post is the third in a series of eight over safety in the food manufacturing and processing industries.
The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) estimates that approximately 20% of all foodborne illness outbreaks can be traced to food handlers not using critical hand hygiene techniques after handling raw ingredients or using the bathroom. Lack of proper handwashing is the second-leading cause of foodborne-illness, and can cost your company millions in wasted product, recalls, lawsuits, and loss of sales due to a damaged reputation. Fortunately, proper handwashing is an easy and cost-effective way to prevent the spread of foodborne illness in your facility.
Proper Handwashing Steps
All employees must be trained on your facility’s handwashing procedure, and supervisors should periodically check that workers are completing all steps. To properly wash hands, workers must:
Employees should wash their hands before preparing food, before cleaning equipment or utensils, and before handling clean equipment or utensils. They should also wash their hands after handling cleaning chemicals, after changing gloves, and when switching from a raw ingredient area to a ready-to-eat food area. Lastly, employees should wash their hands after touching any unclean surface or body part, after coughing or sneezing, and after using the restroom. Your facility must have designated handwashing sinks, preferably with a motion-activated or foot-pedal tap. If your facility does not have motion-activated or foot-pedal sinks, train your employees to use a paper towel to shut off water flow after they’ve finished washing their hands.
Handwashing is a simple, cost-effective way to prevent the spread of foodborne illness, but all employees must be trained on and follow proper handwashing procedures every time that they wash their hands. For more information on how food makes people sick, see the first post in this series. For more information on Listeria, a common source of foodborne illness, see the second post in this series.
For further information, see these links:
- Quality Assurance & Food Safety – Hand Hygiene
- Michigan State University Extension – Proper Hand Washing is Critical in Food Manufacturing
SafetySkills covers these topics and more in our Hand Hygiene in Food Manufacturing course. For more information, click here.