People don’t properly wash their hands before meals 97 percent of the time, says study
The Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) conducted an observational study which showed that consumers aren’t really washing their hands properly before meals.
The study, which was done in collaboration with the RTI International and North Carolina State University, stated that 97 percent of the time, people fail to wash their hands correctly. Rushed hand washing, for one, leads to cross-contamination of food.
“Most consumers failed to wash their hands for the necessary 20 seconds,” USDA’s press release stated last June 28. “And participants did not dry their hands with a clean towel.”
“As a mother of three young children, I am very familiar with the mad dash families go through to put dinner on the table,” said Carmen Rottenberg, acting deputy undersecretary for food safety at USDA.
“You can’t see, smell or feel bacteria. By simply washing your hands properly, you can protect your family and prevent that bacteria from contaminating your food and key areas in your kitchen,” she added.
Apart from improper hand washing, the USDA study also revealed that the participants were unknowingly spreading bacteria, from raw poultry on to other food items, in the test kitchen.
“48 percent of the time are contaminating spice containers used while preparing burgers, 11 percent of the time are spreading bacteria to refrigerator handles, and 5 percent of the time are tainting salads due to cross-contamination,” said the USDA report.
As per the United States Center for Disease Control and Prevention, around 48 million people are afflicted with food illnesses every year. Out of this 48 million, 3,000 die while around 120,000 are hospitalized, with children and older adults especially at risk.
The USDA recommends that one ought to “always wash their hands throughly with soap and water after handling meat, poultry or eggs.”
“Make sure you are washing for a full 20 seconds, and always dry your hands on a clean towel,” the USDA added. JB
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