Food Worker Hand Washing Practices: An Observation Study

$37.00 plus tax (Refund Policy)

Buy Article:


Improvement of food worker hand washing practices is critical to the reduction of foodborne illness and is dependent upon a clear understanding of current hand washing practices. To that end, this study collected detailed observational data on food worker hand washing practices. Food workers (n = 321) were observed preparing food, and data were recorded on specific work activities for which hand washing is recommended (e.g., food preparation, handling dirty equipment). Data were also recorded on hand washing behaviors that occurred in conjunction with these work activities. Results indicated that workers engaged in approximately 8.6 work activities per hour for which hand washing is recommended. However, workers made hand washing attempts (i.e., removed gloves, if worn, and placed hands in running water) in only 32% of these activities and washed their hands appropriately (i.e., removed gloves, if worn, placed hands in running water, used soap, and dried hands) in only 27% of these work activities. Attempted and appropriate hand washing rates varied by work activity—they were significantly higher in conjunction with food preparation than other work activities (46 versus ≤37% for attempted hand washing; 41 versus ≤30% for appropriate hand washing) and were significantly lower in conjunction with touching the body than other work activities (13 versus ≥27% for attempted hand washing; 10 versus ≥23% for appropriate hand washing). Attempted and appropriate hand washing rates were significantly lower when gloves were worn (18 and 16%) than when gloves were not worn (37 and 30%). These findings suggest that the hand washing practices of food workers need to be improved, glove use may reduce hand washing, and restaurants should consider reorganizing their food preparation activities to reduce the frequency with which hand washing is needed.

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: RTI International, 4770 Buford Highway, MS F-28, Atlanta, Georgia 30341, USA 2: National Center for Environmental Health, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 4770 Buford Highway, Atlanta, Georgia 30341, USA 3: Food Division, Metro Public Health Department, 311 23rd Avenue North, Nashville, Tennessee 37203, USA 4: Oregon Health Services, Office of Public Health Systems, 800 N.E. Oregon, Suite 608, Portland, Oregon 97232, USA 5: Minnesota Department of Health, 410 Jackson Street, Suite 500, Mankato, Minnesota 56001, USA 6: RARE Hospitality International, Inc., 8215 Roswell Road, Building 600, Atlanta, Georgia 30350, USA 7: Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, Consumer Protection Division, 4300 Cherry Creek Drive South, Denver, Colorado 80246, USA 8: Connecticut Department of Public Health, Food Protection Program, Division of Environmental Health, MS #51 FDP, 410 Capitol Avenue, P.O. Box 340308, Hartford, Connecticut 06134-0308, USA

Publication date: October 1, 2006

More about this publication?
  • IAFP members must first sign in on the right to access full text articles of JFP

    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.

    Print and online subscriptions are available to Members and Institutional subscribers. Online visitors who are not IAFP Members or journal subscribers will be charged on a pay-per-view basis. Information can be obtained by calling +1 800.369.6337; +1 515.276.3344; fax: +1 515.276.8655, E-mail: or Web site:
  • Information for Authors
  • Submit a Paper
  • Subscribe to this Title
  • Membership Information
  • Information for Advertisers
  • ingentaconnect is not responsible for the content or availability of external websites



Share Content

Access Key

Free Content
Free content
New Content
New content
Open Access Content
Open access content
Subscribed Content
Subscribed content
Free Trial Content
Free trial content
Cookie Policy
Cookie Policy
ingentaconnect website makes use of cookies so as to keep track of data that you have filled in. I am Happy with this Find out more