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Training Tip: Handwashing

Germs on hands.Millions of microscopic bacteria and viruses live on us—on our skin, under our fingernails, and in our hair. Bacteria are invisible to the naked eye, but if they glowed when clustered together, they might look something like the above picture. Imagine how much more careful we would be about germs if we could actually see them!

As a food service manager, you should know that proper handwashing is your strongest defense against the spread of foodborne illness. Any other precaution taken in the kitchen, if not coupled with good handwashing, could easily fall short of delivering food that is safe to eat.

Make sure your employees wash their hands the right way and at the right times. It’s not enough just to cover hands with soap for a few seconds, and hand sanitizer will not suffice. You can teach your employees this handwashing pattern:

  • Scrub your fingernails, hands, and lower arms with soap and warm water for at least 15 seconds.
  • To reach the full 15 seconds, you could sing “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star” in your head.
  • Dry your hands with a disposable paper towel (avoid touching the dispenser).
  • Use a paper towel to turn off the running water and grab the door handle, or else newly cleaned hands will become re-contaminated.

Hands must be washed before and after each new task, and twice after using the restroom—once before leaving the restroom, and again in the kitchen’s designated handwashing sink. This is called “double handwashing.” If an employee inadvertently touches her hair or face, she must wash her hands again, and then put on a new pair of one-time, disposable gloves.

For more information about food service hygiene and additional tips, check out our online food handler training course at StateFoodSafety.com.

—Andrew Klay

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