Today is World Hand Hygiene Day, and although you would think that it's a simple issue, hand hygiene remains a critical issue. Many studies and reports indicate that food handlers play a significant role in the spread of foodborne illnesses, through contamination during handling, much of which could be avoided by better hand hygiene.
Cristina Paiva de Sousa , The impact of food manufacturing practices on food borne diseases. (2008)
R962 clearly addresses the issue of hand-washing. The section on Standards and requirements of food premises stipulates that food premises need to have proper hand-washing facilities:
“Food premises shall have hand-washing facilities which shall be provided with cold and/or hot water for the washing of hand by workers on the food premises and by persons to whom food is served for consumption on the food premises, together with a supply of soap (or other cleaning agents) and clean disposable hand-drying material or other hand-cleaning facilities or hand-drying equipment for the cleansing and drying of hands by such workers and persons.”
In the section of R962 which covers the Duties of a food handler, the regulation stipulates that:
Food, a facility or container shall not be handled by any person
(a) whose fingernails, hands or closes are not clean;
(b) who has not washed his or her hands thoroughly with soap and water or cleaning them in another effective manner.
It then goes on to list when the food handler should wash their hands, this includes:
And R962 finishes this off by stating that the food handler needs to wash his or her hands “after his or her hands have become contaminated for any other reason” – that pretty much covers everything!
So this is just a reminder that hand-washing is not just a vital part of ensuring food safety in your facility or restaurant – it is a legal requirement.
It seems so simple that it is almost unecessary, but it is vital to train food handlers on the proper way to wash their hands in order to remove bacteria. Here are some simple instructions provided by the FSAI.
What is the proper hand washing technique?
Hands should be washed for at least 10-15 seconds as follows:
• Wet hands under warm running water
• Use enough soap to form a good lather
• Rub all parts of hands with soap and water
• Lather for at least 10-15 seconds, vigorously and thoroughly rubbing all hand surfaces, including the fingertips and thumbs
• Rinse hands thoroughly with running water
• Dry hands thoroughly
Food handlers should wash their hands thoroughly before putting on gloves and when removing them. Hands are a perfect breeding ground for bacteria which can multiply in the warm moist conditions within a glove. This makes it even more important to ensure gloves don’t tear, and that hands are washed after removing gloves.
Also, a point to remember is to train your staff that gloves don’t remove the risks of cross-contaminations – they can still cross-contaminate while wearing gloves, and this is often overlooked.
Regulations Governing General Hygiene Requirements For Food Premises And The Transport Of Food R962 http://www.foodfocus.co.za/home/Legislation/Food-Safety/Regulations-Governing-General-Hygiene-Requirements-For-Food-Premises-And-The-Transport-Of-Food-R962
Sousa, Cristina Paiva de. (2008). The impact of food manufacturing practices on food borne diseases. Brazilian Archives of Biology and Technology, 51(4), 615-623. https://dx.doi.org/10.1590/S1516-89132008000400020