megaphone lady
23rd May 2016

Why is a ‘correct’ hand washing procedure so important? Everybody knows the song happy birthday, so next time you wash your hands don’t skip on time and effort. If you sing the full version at the correct speed you’ve washed your hands for long enough!

The new E.coli O157 guidance refers to use of a “proper hand washing technique”, so STS equip you with technique and facts!

Hand Washing Technique

The new E.coli O157 guidance requires the application of this hand washing technique between handling raw food and ready to eat food.

170,000 cases of food related illness last year were directly associated with poor personal hygiene but especially poor or lack of hand washing; hand washing is a fundamental food safety control, but one which is frequently lacking or inadequate.

You should always follow these steps:

  1. Wetting of hands before applying soap – Good practice is to use anti bacterial liquid hand wash to comply with BS EN 1499:1997.
  2. Use of a prescribed technique for hand rubbing to remove contamination from all parts of the hand
  3. Rinsing – Once you’ve washed your hands you must not recontaminate them by touching the taps again. That’s why non hand operated taps are ideal. Otherwise a hand towel should be used to turn off the tap once you’ve dried your hands.
  4. Hygiene drying – Walking away with damp hands is a common sight. Especially when staff are in a rush or the towels have run out. Damp hands increases the spread of bacteria by up to 1,000 times more so this step is important. Air Dryers can spread droplets and bacteria via aerolisation for up to 2.5 meters in all directions. So they need to be at least this distance away from food prep surfaces/equipment. Where paper towels are used there shouldn’t be any hand contact with the dispenser which could re-contaminate hands. Ideally a foot operated bin must be provided and used – of concern is the person lifting the lid with their clean hands.

Hand Rubs

Hand rubs are considered as an additional precaution but must not replace hand washing to prevent cross contamination. It is good practice for hand rubs to comply with BS EN 1500; check with your supplier.

Research has shown longer durability of anti bacterial barrier/moisturising creams over the conventional alcohol based products as they provide longer resistance or inhibition for pathogen bacteria and are more user friendly.

Alcohol based hand sanitisers provides an instant kill rate for most pathogenic bacteria, but the effect is short lived and then leaves a very favourable environment for re-infection and multiplication of bacteria. Excessive use can lead to dermatitis susceptibility, which in turn makes the individual less keen to use it and a rougher skin surface with more terrain for bacteria to lurk.

How do you use hand rubs so your hands don’t become contaminated?

and finally

Food handlers must be trained and supervised in correct techniques. Take time to observe your staff; are they washing their hands properly at appropriate times? “Glo germ” kits are a great training tool for hand washing.


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