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The Importance of Handwashing

Harmful bacteria, or pathogens, are found on almost everything we touch. People can carry them in or on their bodies, pick them up when handling raw food or by touching objects that have been previously contaminated. Once our hands are contaminated, it is very easy for these harmful organisms to spread to our food and cause illness.

Effective handwashing prevents the spread of harmful bacteria and only requires a few simple steps:

  1. Wet hands with warm water.
  2. Apply soap to hands and lather vigorously for at least 20 seconds. Pay particular attention to fingernails, finger tips and in-between fingers.
  3. Rinse with warm water.
  4. Dry hands with disposable towels or blow dryer.

Food service personnel must wash their hands:

  • Before starting work
  • After using the restroom
  • Before and after handling ice » Learn More
  • Prior to and after using single-use gloves
  • While preparing food, as often as necessary to remove excess soil
  • When switching between tasks, such as preparing food and serving food
  • After handling non-food items such as garbage bags or cleaning chemicals
  • After touching exposed parts of the body or clothes, other than clean hands
  • Between handling money and handling food, if not working solely at the register
Water is necessary.

Some hand care products claim to be effective without washing or rinsing with warm water. Hand washing without water is not considered to effectively remove soil, grease and bacteria/viruses.