You wouldn’t want to prepare a meal with bugs crawling on your hands, so why would you skip the soap and water? In the first ever Food Safety Talkabout, StateFoodSafety.com took to the streets to ask people questions about the single most important hygiene habit—proper hand washing. There is no more essential habit for you to practice in food preparation. In fact, when several health department employees were asked what the top three food safety tips are, they said, “hand washing, hand washing, hand washing!” As important as it is, many people, including adults, haven’t yet learned how to do it properly.
There are five simple steps to ensure proper hand washing:
- Wet hands with running water that is hot but not uncomfortably so.
- Apply soap to wet hands.
- Scrub hands, wrists, and lower arms vigorously for at least 10 to 15 seconds. Pay particular attention to the areas underneath fingernails—these are common hiding places for dirt and pathogens.
- Once you are done scrubbing, you should rinse hands thoroughly under running water.
- And finally, dry your hands and arms with a disposable paper towel—not a reusable cloth.
The entire hand washing process should take at least 25 to 30 seconds. It may seem like a long time, but that’s what it takes. The simple act of frequent and thorough hand washing minimizes food contamination and keeps you and those around you safe. Now…go cook something (and don’t forget to wash your hands)!