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J Food Prot. 2010 Oct;73(10):1937-55.

Outbreaks where food workers have been implicated in the spread of foodborne disease. Part 9. Washing and drying of hands to reduce microbial contamination.

Author information

1
Department of Advertising Public Relations and Retailing, Michigan State University, East Lansing, Michigan 48824, USA. todde@msu.edu

Abstract

During various daily activities at home and work, hands quickly become contaminated. Some activities increase the risk of finger contamination by pathogens more than others, such as the use of toilet paper to clean up following a diarrheal episode, changing the diaper of a sick infant, blowing a nose, or touching raw food materials. Many foodborne outbreak investigation reports have identified the hands of food workers as the source of pathogens in the implicated food. The most convenient and efficient way of removing pathogens from hands is through hand washing. Important components of hand washing are potable water for rinsing and soaps to loosen microbes from the skin. Hand washing should occur after any activity that soils hands and certainly before preparing, serving, or eating food. Antimicrobial soaps are marginally more effective than plain soaps, but constant use results in a buildup of the antimicrobial compound on the skin. The time taken to wash hands and the degree of friction generated during lathering are more important than water temperature for removing soil and microorganisms. However, excessive washing and scrubbing can cause skin damage and infections. Drying hands with a towel removes pathogens first by friction during rubbing with the drying material and then by wicking away the moisture into that material. Paper rather than cloth towels should be encouraged, although single-use cloth towels are present in the washrooms of higher class hotels and restaurants. Warm air dryers remove moisture and any surface microorganisms loosened by washing from hands by evaporation while the hands are rubbed together vigorously; however, these dryers take too long for efficient use. The newer dryers with high-speed air blades can achieve dryness in 10 to 15 s without hand rubbing.

PMID:
21067683
DOI:
10.4315/0362-028x-73.10.1937
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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