Outbreaks Where Food Workers Have Been Implicated in the Spread of Foodborne Disease. Part 9. Washing and Drying of Hands To Reduce Microbial Contamination

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Abstract:

During various daily activities at home and work, hands quickly become contaminated. Some activities increase the risk of finger contamination by pathogens more than others, such as the use of toilet paper to clean up following a diarrheal episode, changing the diaper of a sick infant, blowing a nose, or touching raw food materials. Many foodborne outbreak investigation reports have identified the hands of food workers as the source of pathogens in the implicated food. The most convenient and efficient way of removing pathogens from hands is through hand washing. Important components of hand washing are potable water for rinsing and soaps to loosen microbes from the skin. Hand washing should occur after any activity that soils hands and certainly before preparing, serving, or eating food. Antimicrobial soaps are marginally more effective than plain soaps, but constant use results in a buildup of the antimicrobial compound on the skin. The time taken to wash hands and the degree of friction generated during lathering are more important than water temperature for removing soil and microorganisms. However, excessive washing and scrubbing can cause skin damage and infections. Drying hands with a towel removes pathogens first by friction during rubbing with the drying material and then by wicking away the moisture into that material. Paper rather than cloth towels should be encouraged, although single-use cloth towels are present in the washrooms of higher class hotels and restaurants. Warm air dryers remove moisture and any surface microorganisms loosened by washing from hands by evaporation while the hands are rubbed together vigorously; however, these dryers take too long for efficient use. The newer dryers with high-speed air blades can achieve dryness in 10 to 15 s without hand rubbing.

Document Type: Review Article

Affiliations: 1: Department of Advertising Public Relations and Retailing, Michigan State University, East Lansing, Michigan 48824, USA. todde@msu.edu 2: The B. Michaels Group Inc., 487 West River Road, Palatka, Florida 32177, USA 3: Campden BRI, Chipping Campden, Gloucestershire GL55 6LD, UK 4: Public Health Agency of Canada, Laboratory for Foodborne Zoonoses, 160 Research Lane, Unit 206, Guelph, Ontario, Canada N1G 5B2 5: 6110 Troon Lane S.E., Olympia, Washington 98501, USA

Publication date: October 1, 2010

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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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