The Importance of hand washing within the Hospitality and leisure Industry

The Food Standards Agency (FSA) has published the largest ever UK-wide survey of food hygiene knowledge among workers in the catering industry. The survey covered over 1,000 workers and managers in small independent catering businesses, including 198 Scottish interviews across a variety of premises.

UK figures revealed today suggest that more than a third of staff (39%) neglect to wash their hands after visits to the toilet at work - Scottish results are little better with 34% failing to wash their hands after visiting the toilet.

The UK average for washing hands before preparing food was just over half of those interviewed (53%). Far too low a response for a fundamental hygiene requirement, but shockingly the Scottish results fell even lower - to 39% - regarding washing hands before food preparation.

General recognition of food hygiene as a business priority was also a low at 28% among Scottish caterers (the UK figure is 32%), but this sits strangely with a figure of 68% who consider good food a key factor and 97% who recognise that food poisoning can be life threatening.

The survey also shows over half UK catering businesses covered have been operating less than two years and a third of catering workers did not have a certificate in basic food hygiene.

Clearly one of the biggest dangers is high-risk foods which are ingredients or products that are ready to eat.

Eastbourne Environmental Health have put together a simple guide for any catering or hospitality establishment:

  • Maintain appropriate clothing and hair protection
  • Do not cough or sneeze, blow nose, test food with fingers, or touch your face and skin whilst handling food
  • Finger nails should be clean and clipped
  • Jewellery should be kept to a minimum
  • No smoking
  • Cuts to be covered with catering blue waterproof plasters

They have correctly placed great emphasis upon hand washing; for example;

  • Hand basins to be provided exclusively for hand washing
  • Wash hands in running warm water and anti-bacterial soap
  • Rinse in running water and dry on disposable paper towels

These procedures to be conducted always before starting work or handling food
Between handling raw and cooked foods
After handling raw food / handling eggs in shells / visiting toilets / coughing and sneezing into hands / touching hair or skin / cleaning jobs / dealing with rubbish / eating, drinking or smoking.

There is a natural assumption that we all understand fully both how to wash our hands properly and also appreciate how cross contamination takes place but in reality; few of us do

A simple trial using the DaRo UV Systems manufactured Hand Inspection Cabinet will easily demonstrate that few of us understand how to adequately perform this simple function and yet doing it correctly will protect us all significantly.

A simple procedure of applying GlitterBug to our hands, washing and then placing the hands into the Hand Inspection Cabinet will show immediately all of the areas where contamination is still present. It is not sufficient to simply wash our hands and arms; it is more a matter of performing the task properly.

As contamination will also be found on door handles, other equipment, walls etc, for training purposes, our hand held equipment with powders will also demonstrate areas of contamination/cross contamination/infection the means of transmission, and where cleaning staff require further training.