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Hand Washing Compliance among Retail Food Establishment Workers in Minnesota

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Abstract:

Inadequate hand washing by food workers is an important contributing factor to foodborne disease outbreaks in retail food establishments (RFEs). We conducted a survey of RFEs to investigate the effect of hand washing training, availability of hand washing facilities, and the ability of the person in charge (PIC) to describe hand washing according to the Minnesota Food Code (food code) on workers' ability to demonstrate food code–compliant hand washing. Only 52% of the PICs could describe the hand washing procedure outlined in the food code, and only 48% of workers could demonstrate code-compliant hand washing. The most common problems observed were failure to wash for 20 s and failure to use a fingernail brush. There was a strong positive association between the PIC being a certified food manager and being able to describe the food code hand washing procedure (odds ratio [OR], 5.5; 95% confidence interval [CI], 2.2 to 13.7), and there was an even stronger association between the PIC being able to describe hand washing and workers being able to demonstrate code-compliant hand washing (OR, 15; 95% CI, 6 to 37). Significant associations were detected among correct hand washing demonstration, physical infrastructure for hand washing, and the hand washing training methods used by the establishment. However, the principal determinant of successful hand washing demonstration was the PIC's ability to describe proper hand washing procedure. These results suggest that improving hand washing practices among food workers will require interventions that address PIC knowledge of hand washing requirement and procedure and the development and implementation of effective hand washing training methods.

Document Type: Short Communication

Affiliations: 1: Division of Environmental Health, Minnesota Department of Health, 121 East Seventh Place, St. Paul, Minnesota 55121, USA 2: Division of Environmental Health, City of Minneapolis, 250 South Fourth Street, Minneapolis, Minnesota 55415, USA 3: Border Foods Incorporated, 965 Decatur Avenue North, Golden Valley, Minnesota 55427, USA 4: Division of Environmental and Occupational Health, School of Public Health, University of Minnesota, 420 Delaware Street S. E., Minneapolis, Minnesota 55455, USA

Publication date: December 1, 2004

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    First published in 1937, the Journal of Food Protection®, is a refereed monthly publication. Each issue contains scientific research and authoritative review articles reporting on a variety of topics in food science pertaining to food safety and quality. The Journal is internationally recognized as the leading publication in the field of food microbiology with a readership exceeding 11,000 scientists from 70 countries. The Journal of Food Protection® is indexed in Index Medicus, Current Contents, BIOSIS, PubMed, Medline, and many others.

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