It may seem boring, yet Dr Semmelweis, a physician in Austria in 1846, would not have agreed with this statement. Up until the 1800’s, doctors and medical students did not scrub up before surgery, or between seeing patients. Dr Semmelweis soon realised, even before the germ theory was introduced, that hands were causing infections to be transferred amongst the patients. He therefore put in place rigorous hand-washing rules before patient examinations and successfully reduced mortality rates.

Even today, hand washing is still unpopular. In 2002, the Food Standards Agency (FSA) undertook a survey which suggested that more than 53% of caterers do not wash their hands before preparing food, and 39% do not wash their hands after visiting the toilet!!! Next to medical workers, surely there is not a more important group of people who should be vigilant when it comes to keeping their hands clean?

It is important to encourage not only staff, but the general public to wash their hands correctly. After all, a customer still recovering from a recent bout of illness will transfer the infection onto anything they touch – the salt and pepper shakers, the buffet serving spoons, door handles, and more!

The FSA have verified a 6-step hand washing technique. This will effectively reduce the risk of cross-contamination between non-ready-to-eat and ready-to-eat foods as opposed to the ‘bog standard’ scrub we usually carry out. They have released three videos showing the importance of correct hand washing and the 6-step technique, as well as a poster.

How to wash hands correctly?

FSA hand washing guide: effective technique – click here

You can also contact if you need any further information.




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