Proper Hand Washing and Your Health

Update March 9. 2020

Study Shows Most People Are Spreading Dangerous Bacteria Around the Kitchen (and everywhere else) and Don’t Even Realize It

WASHINGTON,  2018  – A new study from the U.S. Department of Agriculture shows that when it comes to handwashing before meals, consumers are failing to properly clean their hands 97 percent of the time. Rushed handwashing can lead to cross-contamination of food and other surfaces, resulting in foodborne illness.
Globally, 2020 –  The Corona VirusThere is currently no vaccine to prevent coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). The best way to prevent illness is to avoid being exposed to this virus. However, as a reminder, CDC always recommends everyday preventive actions to help prevent the spread of respiratory diseases, including:

  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
  • Stay home when you are sick.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe.
  • Follow CDC’s recommendations for using a facemask.
  • CDC does not recommend that people who are well wear a facemask to protect themselves from respiratory diseases, including COVID-19.
  • Facemasks should be used by people who show symptoms of COVID-19 to help prevent the spread of the disease to others. The use of facemasks is also crucial for health workers and people who are taking care of someone in close settings (at home or in a health care facility).
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom; before eating; and after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.
  • If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol. Always wash hands with soap and water if hands are visibly dirty.

Source: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/about/prevention-treatment.html

“As a mother of three young children, I am very familiar with the mad dash families go through to put dinner on the table,” said Carmen Rottenberg, Acting Deputy Under Secretary for Food Safety at USDA. “You can’t see, smell or feel bacteria. By simply washing your hands properly, you can protect your family and prevent that bacteria from contaminating your food and key areas in your kitchen.”
The preliminary results of the observational study, conducted by USDA in collaboration with RTI International and North Carolina State University, showed some concerning results.
  • Handwashing: the study revealed that consumers are not washing their hands correctly 97 percent of the time.
    • Most consumers failed to wash their hands for the necessary 20 seconds, and
    • Numerous participants did not dry their hands with a clean towel.
  • Thermometer use: results reveal that only 34 percent of participants used a food thermometer to check that their burgers were cooked properly.
    • Of those who did use the food thermometer, nearly half still did not cook the burgers to the safe minimum internal temperature.
  • Cross contamination: the study showed participants spreading bacteria from raw poultry onto other surfaces and food items in the test kitchen.
    • 48 percent of the time are contaminating spice containers used while preparing burgers,
    • 11 percent of the time are spreading bacteria to refrigerator handles, and
    • 5 percent of the time are tainting salads due to cross-contamination.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that 48 million Americans are sickened with foodborne illnesses each year, resulting in roughly 128,000 hospitalizations and 3,000 deaths. Children, older adults and those with compromised immune systems are especially at risk.
With grilling season upon us, USDA is reminding consumers to use a food thermometer and cook meat and poultry products to the recommended safe internal temperatures. When cooking meat and poultry patties, insert the thermometer through the side of the patty until the probe reaches the center of the patty. Meat and poultry products are done when they reach these minimum internal temperatures:
  • Beef, pork, lamb and veal (steaks, roasts and chops): 145°F.
  • Ground meats (burgers): 160°F.
  • Poultry (whole or ground): 165°F.
Always wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water after handling raw meat, poultry or eggs. Make sure you are washing for a full 20 seconds, and always dry your hands on a clean towel.
More information about this study is available in an executive summary.
Have questions? Need more food safety information? Call the USDA Meat and Poultry Hotline at 1-888-MP-HOTLINE (1-888-674-6854). Live food safety experts are available Monday through Friday, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Eastern Time. Expert advice is also available 24/7 at AskKaren.gov.
#
USDA is an equal opportunity provider, employer and lender.”


Every year millions of people get sick with the Flu. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC.gov) recommends to get vaccinated to prevent the seasonal illness, that, and also to properly wash your hands. Regular hand washing is one of the best ways to protect you against germs, diseases and prevent the spread of germs and illness to others. 

 

Proper hand washing involves five simple steps: 
1. Wet – 6 seconds 
2. Lather – 6 seconds
3. Scrub – 6 seconds
4. Rinse – 6 seconds
5. Dry – 6 seconds

Washing your hands with water and soap is always the best; however you can also use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer which does not require water.   Alcohol-based hand sanitizers can quickly reduce the number of microbes on hands in some situations, but sanitizers do not eliminate all types of germs. Hand sanitizers are not as effective when hands are visibly dirty or greasy. The simple friction that occurs when you rub skin against skin, along with warm water and soap, followed by thorough rinsing, and drying, gets rid of the potentially harmful bacteria.

According to an article published by WEBMD, almost 80% of infectious diseases are transmitted by touch. The CDC estimates that up to 49,000 people die from the flu or flu-like illness each year, and another 5,000 people die from food borne illness each year. And the best protection from this type of illness is frequent hand washing.  We all know we should wash our hands, right? In 2013, researchers at Michigan University conducted and undercover study to see how many people actually washed their hands when using a public bathroom. The results concluded that only 7% of women and 15% of men skipped washing their hands all together. And surprisingly, 95% of people didn’t wash their hands properly, Which can be as bad as skipping washing hands. Gross! if you ask me. Washing hands is the best way to prevent the spread of germs. (blog.goodguide.com)

 

The guidelines for washing hands according to the CDC :

 

  Wet your hands with clean, running water (warm or cold), turn off the tap, and apply soap.
  Lather your hands by rubbing them together with the soap. Be sure to lather     backs of     your hands, between your fingers, and under your nails
  Scrub your hands for at least 20 seconds.
  Rinse your hands well under clean, running water.
  Dry your hands using a clean towel or   air dry them.
 
You should wash your hands:
  • Before, during, and after preparing food
  • Before eating food
  • Before and after caring for someone who is sick
  • Before and after treating a cut or wound
  • After using the toilet
  • After changing diapers or cleaning up a child who has used the toilet
  • After blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing
  •  After touching an animal, animal feed, or animal waste
  •  After handling pet food or pet treats
  •  After touching garbage 


 

Hand washing during a Disaster
Hygiene is especially important in an emergency such as a flood, hurricane, or earthquake, but finding clean, safe running water can sometimes be difficult. A temporary hand washing station can be created by using a large water jug that contains clean water that has been boiled or disinfected. (CDC.GOV)
Temporary Handwashing Station
Source: Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation http://dec.alaska.gov
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