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Handwashing is Key to Preventing Restaurant-Related Foodborne Illness | Ecolab Food Safety Solutions

Handwashing is Key to Preventing Restaurant Related Foodborne Illness

By Cindy Rice, RS

Poor personal hygiene of foodhandlers is one of CDC’s 5 major risk factors that contribute to foodborne illness in foodservice operations, and the second leading cause of foodborne illness in the United States. Elements of personal hygiene include handwashing, proper glove usage, employee illness restrictions, protection from jewelry, fingernails, clothing and improper personal behaviors.

handwashing in restaurants to help prevent foodborne illness


CDC states that hands are the most common means of transmitting gastrointestinal viruses to foods. And preventing bare hand contact with ready-to-eat foods is an essential control measure for limiting the spread of harmful bacteria and viruses, as handwashing alone is not enough, says FDA.

Did you know that…

  • FDA inspections of Full Service restaurants discovered “Inadequate handwashing” in 75.8% of the visits, and “Hand contaminations” in 46.3% of the visits
  • Norovirus is the leading cause of illness outbreaks according to CDC. As few as 18 Norovirus particles may be sufficient to infect an individual
  • 65% of outbreaks were associated with handling of foods by an infected person and 35% were associated with bare hand contact with food, in one EHS-Net study
  • Food workers carry out about 9 activities an hour that should involve handwashing. Workers only wash their hands in a quarter (27%) of these activities, showed one study
  • Hepatitis A can be transmitted by an infected individual for up to 2 weeks before displaying symptoms
  • Food workers that were asymptomatic were responsible for more outbreaks than workers that showed symptoms of fever, vomiting or diarrhea, showed one study
  • Residual bacteria may remain on hands and under nails even after handwashing

food handling gloves for foodservice

Critical FDA Food Code requirements can help to prevent disease transmission in foodservice facilities:

  1. Remove pathogens from the hands of food workers through effective handwashing
  2. Use barriers (eg, gloves) to prevent bare-hand contact with ready-to-eat foods
  3. Exclude ill food workers from the workplace

Products that can help: posters, gloves, hand sanitizer, nail brush, hair restraints, personal protective equipment, first aid kits, biohazard kits, illness policy reminders.



Proper Handwashing Procedures

Take a look at this short video on how to properly wash hands.