Handwashing education materials for food handlers

CDC estimates that every year, 48 million people get sick, 128,000 are hospitalized, and 3,000 die from foodborne illnesses in the US.

Handwashing is the best way to prevent the spread of infection.

  • You’re at work—You’re busy.
  • Your hands look clean—But, they’re not.
  • Your hands have germs on them that could make someone sick.
  • You could get sick—Your family could get sick—Your customers could get sick.
  • If you handle food, you must wash your hands often.

When should you wash your hands?

  • When arriving at work
  • After using the bathroom
  • After smoking
  • After sneezing
  • After touching your hair, face, clothing
  • After eating or drinking
  • After taking off or before putting on a new pair of gloves
  • Before handling food, especially ready-to-eat foods like salads and sandwiches
  • After handling garbage
  • After handling dirty equipment, dishes, or utensils
  • After touching raw meats, poultry and fish
  • Anytime you change tasks – go from one thing to another

How should you wash your hands?

  • Wet your hands with warm running water
  • Lather with soap and scrub between fingers, on the backs of your hands, and under nails
  • Wash for at least 20 seconds, or as long as it takes to sing ‘Happy Birthday’ to yourself twice
  • Dry hands. Use single-use paper towels or electric hand dryers
  • Use a paper towel when you turn off the tap

Handwashing may not always be enough to stop the spread of germs from hands to food. So the FDA recommends use of barriers such as single-use gloves to stop the spread of germs. But research on handwashing and glove use in restaurants shows that these practices do not occur as often as they should.

Gloves should be used in accordance with the Massachusetts State Sanitary Code, 105 CMR 590.000.

Single-use gloves should be changed:

  • Anytime you would need to wash your hands (see above)
  • When gloves are torn or soiled

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