Although the United States of America has one of the safest food supplies in the world, we still have 48 million cases of foodborne illnesses each year- one out of every six people! Plus, there are 3,000 deaths each year. Foodborne illness is largely preventable. We all have a role to play in food safety.
One of the best things is to wash your hands. Handwashing (with soap and water) removes germs from hands. Unintentionally, we touch our face throughout the day. Germs that we pick up on our hands can enter the body through our eyes, nose and mouth. We can also transfer germs from our hands to food, drinks, or other objects.
Good Hand Washing Practices
Modeling good handwashing and encouraging handwashing is important for kids. Wash your hands with clean, running water and soap for at least 20 seconds before and after handling food, and after using the bathroom, changing diapers and handling pets. When done properly, washing hands with warm water and soap is more effective than sanitizers in reducing the number of bacteria and viruses on hands. If soap and water aren’t available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol. Remember, for sanitizers to work, they must air dry on the hands instead of being dried off with a towel.
Studies have shown that handwashing can prevent 1 in 3 diarrhea-related sicknesses and 1 in 5 respiratory infections.
Did you know:
I get the question a lot about whether antibacterial soaps should be used. Really the most important thing is that you are washing your hands with soap and water. The soap can be liquid or bar. Studies have not found any added health benefit from using soaps containing antibacterial ingredients when compared with plain soap. Each type is equally effective in getting rid of germs.
People also have a lot of questions about antibiotic resistance. Think about it this way…handwashing helps prevent many sicknesses, which in turn means less use of antibiotics. Avoiding infections in the first place reduces the amount of antibiotics that must be used and reduces the likelihood that resistance will develop during treatment.
Every day our hands touch surfaces covered with microorganisms that we cannot see. Handwashing is one of the best ways to fight disease and to prevent the spread of disease causing microorganisms.