Hand Washing Techniques

Written by Patricia Skinner
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Thorough hand washing techniques are the basis of any good food safety program. It has been proven time and time again that most food borne illnesses and illnesses that are passed from hand to hand are the result of a person not washing his hands at all, or not washing them thoroughly enough, somewhere along the line. Unfortunately there are still far too many people in the United States not washing their hands when they go to the toilet.

Some sources put the figure at a little below 20 percent, and others have it as high as 30 percent. Even one person in a restaurant or other food industry business who is not washing their hands when needed is one person too many. Food industry businesses have an obligation towards themselves and the public to ensure that all employees are educated in thorough hand washing techniques.

Description of Thorough Hand Washing Techniques

The big question is, what exactly are thorough hand washing techniques? To begin with, hands should be wet. Then soap should be added, enough to make a good lather. If it's antibacterial soap, then so much the better. The lathering phase should cover all of the hands, including underneath the fingernails and well up the wrists beyond the hands.

Anyone teaching hand washing techniques should make sure that students get into the habit of lathering for at least 15-20 seconds, to allow the soap to do its work and to make sure nothing is missed. Then comes a thorough rinse. It's important not to touch the sides of the basin at all during hand washing, and the water should be turned off using a paper towel in order to avoid recontaminating hands. Hand washing should be performed after going to the toilet, after touching the mouth, nose, or other part of the anatomy, and after performing any task that results in dirty hands.

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