Food Handlers Should Wash Their Hands Between
Food handlers should wash their hands between preparation and handling, using soap and water; between 10 percent and 20 percent of illnesses result from eating contaminated food or from contact with contaminated surfaces.
The CDC has guidelines to help prevent illness from foodborne pathogens, such as norovirus, Escherichia coli O157:H7, and salmonella. Still, it’s up to food handlers to follow them.
Food handler training teaches the basics about preventing food contamination by practicing proper handwashing techniques between tasks that cause cross-contamination in the kitchen.
It is estimated that nearly one million people in North America get salmonella each year. This is a foodborne illness caused by salmonella bacteria, which may be present in meat, poultry, egg products, and other foods.
To reduce someone’s risk of becoming ill from foodborne pathogens, wash your hands with soap and water within a week of handling them. You can also use alcohol-based hand sanitizers, but ensure they contain at least 60% alcohol.
These sanitizers don’t kill all types of germs (for example, they don’t kill staphylococcus or streptococcus), so you should still use soap and water when possible. You can also avoid cross-contamination by not letting raw meats touch cooked or ready-to-eat foods.
Always keep raw meats separate from other foods while shopping, preparing meals, and storing leftovers. And thoroughly cook all meat until it’s no longer pink inside to an internal temperature of 165°F (74°C). This will help prevent bacteria growth that could lead to food poisoning if consumed later.
Symptoms of norovirus include diarrhea, vomiting, nausea, and abdominal pain. Though norovirus can be spread by eating contaminated food, it’s most often spread through person-to-person contact.
After an infected person vomits or has a bowel movement, small amounts of norovirus are left on their hands, contaminating others if proper handwashing technique isn’t followed.
A single droplet of norovirus particles is infectious enough to cause another person’s infection. The good news is that outbreaks tend only to last a few days or weeks since people generally recover within one to two days after their symptoms begin.
However, immunocompromised patients may develop severe complications from norovirus infection. People with underlying medical conditions like HIV/AIDS, cancer, or diabetes may experience dehydration and other potentially serious complications from norovirus.
And unlike some viral infections, you can’t get vaccinated against norovirus. That means once exposed to it, you’re likely contagious for several days and will remain so until your body fights off the virus.
Since noroviruses are highly contagious and easily transmitted, especially among close contacts such as family members or co-workers, they’re a big concern for public health officials worldwide.
While washing your hands frequently and thoroughly is key to preventing norovirus infections (as well as many other common illnesses), these viruses also pose unique challenges when controlling them effectively in our communities, unlike bacterial pathogens like E.
A serious illness that can cause diarrhea, abdominal cramps, and vomiting. This illness usually lasts one to two weeks but can be life-threatening.
- coli are found in beef, poultry, seafood, unpasteurized milk and cheese products, vegetables, and fruit. To protect E. coli from attempting to spread from your hands to food, wash your hands before eating or food preparation.
Ensure food is cooked thoroughly before eating or cooking it further because raw meat is a significant source of E-coli bacteria that may make you sick.
In addition to washing raw fruits and vegetables thoroughly with cold water, you should use a clean brush when brushing your teeth or mouthwash if you’ve recently handled raw meats so as not to spread bacteria across your mouth.
If you have been ill after handling food, inform your customers about what happened and encourage them to get medical attention immediately. Most cases of E. coli will go away on their own without treatment. However, seeing a doctor for proper diagnosis and treatment advice is still essential.
You should also report all illnesses caused by contaminated food to local health authorities. They’ll need information such as where you ate, what you ate, who else was there, and how many people got sick. You should also save any leftover food in case it needs to be tested by public health officials.
During preparation, employees touch a lot of raw food items. They often don’t wash their hands after touching non-preparation surfaces. Once inside your gut, these bacteria can cause severe illness or even death.
The only way to kill them is by heating your food above 165 degrees. It requires that a consumer never eats food kept below 41 degrees for more than four hours or at a temperature above 130 degrees for more than one hour.
In other words, if you’re not serving hot food hot and cold food cold, you’ll need to re-think your operation. The best solution; Wash your hands! Wash them with soap! Then rewash them!
A recent study found that soap reduces bacteria levels on your skin by nearly 60 percent in just two minutes. (You also get better results with liquid soap versus bar soap.)
If it’s too much trouble to use soap and water constantly, try rubbing alcohol instead. It washes away some 90 percent of germs on contact. One study found that using an alcohol rub before handling food reduced restaurant contamination rates from 20 percent to 3 percent.
But whatever you do, avoid antibacterial soaps; they have no added benefit over regular soaps and might be worse for you since they kill good bacteria and bad.
Washing your hands is essential, but only if you do it right. That means ensuring you’re thorough and getting your front and back of each hand. It also means rinsing off any soap residue as best you can before applying new food or touching food again otherwise, it’s not much different than not washing at all.