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Restaurant Food Safety Tips: Proper Hand Washing

Health inspections are a regular part of life in any food service business, but too often it’s easy for a restaurant or commercial kitchen to fall into the trap of just passing the inspection rather than regularly practicing good food safety procedures.

This series is intended to help your business improve food safety practices, because it’s about more than passing an inspection.  It’s about protecting yourself, your employees, and your customer.

The FDA estimates that 81,000 people suffer from a food borne illness every year, and that 9,000 deaths are a direct result of a preventable food borne illness.  Food borne illnesses are still the leading cause of emergency room visits in the United States.

With those sobering statistics in mind, here are some tips to help you make safe food handling an integral part of your day-to-day routine:

Restaurant Food Safety Tips: Proper Hand Washing

Wash Your Hands!

Cross-contamination resulting from kitchen staff touching contaminated surfaces and then touching food being prepared to serve is one of the most common causes of food borne illness.

Employees should be trained on when to wash their hands and information regarding proper hand washing technique should be posted throughout your commercial kitchen or restaurant, especially over hand sinks and in bathrooms.When To Wash Hands:

  • After touching other food
  • After eating, drinking or smoking
  • After performing other tasks like cleaning, taking out trash, etc.
  • After coming into contact with their person or bodily fluids, like sneezing, coughing, or touching hair or skin

How To Wash Hands:

  • Wet hands first and then apply plenty of soap
  • Use warm water
  • Wash hands for at least 20 seconds (it’s longer than you think!)
  • Use the palms of the hands to rub soap over other areas like the back of the hand, fingers, wrists, and forearms
  • Use fingers to vigorously rub palms and between fingers, where bacteria and pathogens tend to collect
  • Dry in a sanitary manner: clean, unused paper towels or automatic hand dryer

Developing and training a hand washing procedure for your employees is important, but it’s also useless without effective enforcement.  Make sure you have a method for monitoring and reminding staff of proper hand washing procedures.

A little prevention, especially with something as easy as washing your hands, can go a long way in maintaining high restaurant food safety standards.

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