Category Archives: Hand Washing

Global Handwashing Day

Global Handwashing Day

October 15 is Global Handwashing Day, a global advocacy day dedicated to increasing awareness and understanding about the importance of handwashing with soap as an effective and affordable way to prevent diseases and save lives.


This unprecedented time provides a unique impetus to institutionalize hand hygiene as a fundamental component of health and safety. The learnings from the past year have emphasized the need for collective action to address the historic neglect of hand hygiene investments, policies, and programs once and for all. As we enter a new normal, beyond COVID-19, our future is at hand.  This year’s theme, “Our Future is at Hand – Let’s Move Forward Together,” calls for coordinated action as we actively work toward universal hand hygiene.

No matter your role, you can celebrate Global Handwashing Day!

Click to access GHD-2021-Fact-Sheet.pdf

Research – Handwashing Observations in Fast-Food and Full-Service Restaurants: Results from the 2014 FDA Retail Food Risk Factors Study

Journal of Food Protection

Properly executed handwashing by food employees can greatly minimize the risk of transmitting foodborne pathogens to food and food contact surfaces in restaurants. However, food employee handwashing is often not done correctly nor does it occur as often as it should. The purpose of this study was to assess the relative impact of 1) the convenience and accessibility of handwashing facilities; 2) the maintenance of handwashing supplies, 3) multi-unit status, 4) having a Certified Food Protection Manager, and 5) having a Food Safety Management System on compliance with proper handwashing. Results showed marked differences in handwashing behaviors between fast-food and full-service restaurants. Forty-five percent of fast-food restaurants and 57% of full-service restaurants were found to be out of compliance for washing hands correctly. Fifty-seven percent of fast-food establishments and 78% of full-service establishments were out-of-compliance for employee hands being washed when required. Logistic regression results point toward the benefits of accessibility and maintenance of the handwashing sink and food establishments having a Food Safety Management System to increase the likelihood of employees washing hands when they are supposed to and washing them correctly when they do.

Research – Scientific Evidence Supports the Use of Alcohol Based Hand Sanitizers as an Effective Alternative to Handwashing in Retail Food and Foodservice Settings When Heavy Soiling is Not Present on Hands

Journal of Food Protection

Suboptimal food worker health and hygiene has been a common contributing factor in foodborne disease outbreaks for many years. Despite clear FDA Model Food Code recommendations for hand washing and glove use, food worker compliance with handwashing recommendations has remained poor for more than 20 years. Food workers’ compliance with recommended handwashing is adversely impacted by a number of barriers, including complaints of time pressure, inadequate number and/or location of handwashing sinks and handwashing supplies, lack of food knowledge and training regarding handwashing, the belief that wearing gloves obviates the need for hand washing, insufficient management commitment, and adverse skin effects caused by frequent handwashing. While many of the issues related to poor handwashing practices in food service facilities are the same as those in healthcare settings, a new approach to healthcare hand hygiene was deemed necessary over 15 years ago due to persistently low compliance rates among healthcare personnel. Evidence-based hand hygiene guidelines for healthcare settings were published by both CDC in 2002 and by the World Health Organization in 2009. Despite similar low handwashing compliance rates among retail food establishment workers, no changes in the Food Code indications for handwashing have been made since 2001. In direct contrast to healthcare settings, where frequent use of alcohol-based hand sanitizers (ABHSs) in lieu of handwashing has improved hand hygiene compliance rates and reduced infections, the Food Code continues to permit the use of ABHSs only after hands have been washed with soap and water. This general interest manuscript provides clear evidence to support modifying the FDA Model Food Code to  allow the use of ABHS as an acceptable alternative to handwashing in situations where heavy soiling is not present . Emphasis on the importance of handwashing when hands are heavily soiled and appropriate use of gloves are still indicated.

Research – COVID-19 expert explains what soap does to SARS-CoV-2 virus

Mayo Clinic

Your hand has oils on it, and viruses stick to that oil. They have an electrostatic charge to them. But when you’re washing with soap, soap has things that decrease surface tension in them so you are physically rubbing by friction and washing away that virus. It is the most effective thing we know to do. That’s why surgeons, for example, scrub their hands so very carefully before they go into an OR. It works, and it works really well.

Research – Preventative care: Increasing Hepatitis A vaccinations among food service workers

Food Safety News 

Thesis: Over the past three years, there has been an ongoing outbreak of Hepatitis A in the United States although it is the only foodborne disease that has a vaccination. Mandating vaccinations to food service workers is essential to reduce the spread of Hepatitis A, especially since outbreaks involving food handlers are in the public eye. 

Background & Analysis: It is estimated that in the United States alone there are 48 million cases of foodborne illness annually. Out of these 48 million, 128,000 are hospitalized and 3,000 people die. The CDC recommends to the general public that the best way to prevent Hepatitis A is through vaccination, but not have explicitly stated that food service workers should be administered the vaccination. While food service workers are not traditionally designated as having an increased risk of Hepatitis A transmission, they are not free from risk. Additionally, 24% of Hepatitis A cases are asymptomatic which means a food-handler carrying the virus can unknowingly transmit the disease to a consumer. Historically, when an outbreak occurs local health departments start administering the vaccine for free or at a reduced cost. The funding from these vaccinations is through taxpayer dollars. 

Research – Microbial risks in food franchise: A step forward in establishing ideal cleaning and disinfection practices in SSOPs

Wiley Online


Microbial contamination in coffee specialty franchises using uniform processing procedures in Korea was examined. Cleaning or disinfection practices for sanitation standard operating procedures (SSOPs) are proposed. For each processing step, food materials and associated processing environments were tested for heterotrophic bacteria (HB), Escherichia coli, coliform, and Staphylococcus aureus. Existing SSOP cleaning or disinfection practices were also evaluated. Ice‐making procedures revealed coliform and HB contamination in all coffee houses, with high HB contamination on several supplementary food materials and associated food utensils. Microbial loads in food materials or final products were high on structures and materials that are difficult to clean and disinfect. Staphylococcus species contaminated food machinery and utensils directly contacted by food handlers. Based on our analysis of cleaning and disinfection practices in each franchise’s SSOPs, current practices should be complemented to ensure food safety. Our results provide a foundation for developing sanitation standards optimized for coffee specialty franchises.

Practical applications

Franchise brands operating collectively require well‐established sanitation practices such as sanitation standard operating procedures (SSOPs) to ensure food safety and quality. Microbiological studies were performed to evaluate coffee processing procedures and environments at specialty franchise brands. Hygiene practices in SSOPs were simultaneously evaluated to examine cleaning and disinfection procedures. In several processing procedures and associated processing environments, coliform and Staphylococcus aureus were detected on food handlers’ hands, gloves, and hand‐accessible areas of food utensils or machinery simultaneously. Coliforms were also detected in edible ice cubes and on related utensils or machinery for ice production or storage (ice‐making machine, ice‐bin). Heterotrophic bacteria (HB) were detected at high densities in sugar syrup (under‐using) and edible ice (during production and storage). Particularly, HB concentrations increased during processing. Thus, microbial contamination is increased by various factors during processing, particularly inappropriate cleaning or disinfection of utensils or machinery. Evaluation of cleaning and disinfection practices for each franchise’s SSOPs revealed that the cleaning and disinfection practices for machinery or utensils accessible to worker’s hands must be supplemented. Establishments serving a wide variety of coffee beverages may require complex and different processing procedures. Because utensils and machinery affecting the microbial load of the final product can vary, the areas and targets of cleaning and disinfection should be expanded. Second, the structure or material characteristics of food utensils or machinery that are difficult to clean and disinfect can lead to microbial growth. Cleaning or disinfection of food utensils or machinery should be considered in SSOPs. Purchasing management (as a major category of SSOPs for food safety) should be expanded to utensils or machinery in addition to food materials. Furthermore, cleaning and disinfection targets aimed at under‐used utensils or facilities must be established in SSOPs.

Global Handwashing Day – Yesterday?


Celebrate Global Handwashing Day to promote handwashing with soap in your community and around the world.

Established by the Global Handwashing Partnership in 2008, Global Handwashing Day is celebrated each year on October 15 as a way to increase awareness and understanding of the benefits of handwashing with soap. Global Handwashing Day is an opportunity to get involved in creative ways to encourage people to wash their hands with soap at critical times.

Handwashing( is one of the most important steps we can take to avoid getting sick and spreading germs to others. Many germs that can make people sick are spread by not washing hands with soap and clean, running water. Handwashing is especially important during key times(, such as after using the bathroom or before preparing food.

CDC – Handwashing Posters

CDC Handwashing Posters

Some examples and there are links to many others.

superhero poster featuring a boy and girl with african-american features        One trillion germs - english    Poster featuring a princess with african american features


Keep Calm and Wash Your Hands (english version)   Keep Calm and Wash Your Hands (spanish version)         Keep Calm and Wash Your Hands (chinese version)

A nine-panel photo storyboard poster that depicts the step-by-step progression of a foodborne illness outbreak. A food employee is experiencing vomiting at work.  




Information – Blame the consumer, cruise edition

Barf Blog

The simple fact is that if people washed their hands, there would be no norovirus,’ that’s what Royal Caribbean CEO Michael Bayley said in an  interview in Business Insider published this week.

Nope. It’s not that simple. Handwashing is a factor, but so is showing up ill, so is how surfaces are cleaned and sanitized (and with what compound). Norovirus isn’t just a handwashing or cruise patron problem. And if it was, and  was so simple we wouldn’t see 20 million + illness annually in the U.S.


Research – Retail Packed Chicken and Microorganisms

Food Safety News imagesCAYZ5I84

It won’t all harm you, but some of it might. That’s the caveat in the latest Consumer Reports analysis of tests on raw chicken breasts purchased at retailers nationwide. The analysis found that 97 percent of tested chicken breast samples “harbored bacteria that could make you sick.”

While it is true that the detected bacteria could cause infections if improperly handled, a smaller proportion has the potential to cause foodborne illness in the classic sense.