Hand washing is a significant food safety risk.  If not done properly, many people can be exposed to bacterial, viral, and parasitic pathogens that can cause illness.  Of the estimated 76 million foodborne illnesses annually, an estimated 70 percent are caused by improper hand and fingertip washing.  The following presentation will discuss the food and non-food sources of pathogens and types of bacteria on found on hands and fingertips, with attention given to Staphylococcus aureus.  It will discuss the ineffectiveness of germicidal soaps and alcohol rubs as a replacement for hand washing and the use of a fingertip rinse in the kitchen when hand washing is not a convenient option.  

The tested hand / fingertip wash procedure featured in this presentation is two-fold:  1) the double wash when a food handler comes into the kitchen from an outside location such as the toilet and 2) the single wash, which can be used in the kitchen.  The procedure is analyzed in terms of the input (level of hazard on fingertips prior to washing), the increase of the hazard, if any, during the process minus the necessary reduction in order to achieve a Food Safety Objective.  A detailed description and pictorial flow of the hand wash procedure are presented.  The double wash makes use of the nail brush on fingertips and soap and flowing water, which removes pathogens by friction and dilution, followed by a regular wash with soap and flowing water and paper towel dry.  The single wash is simply the second part of the double wash.  

There is discussion of the misconception of glove use and when gloves can be effectively used.  

Hand and fingertip washing should be a part of a food manager’s Active Managerial Control plan.  How to implement a hand wash plan is presented.


  • Albert Chambers

    Dr. Snyder’s presentation should be part of every household’s “Home HACCP” training program in addition to being an essential prerequisite in that of every food business.
    Perhaps someday, we will see “Home HACCP”, based on a rigorous and available generic model, with training presentations/videos, concise manuals and checklists part of every school curriculum, used as a module in the curricula of professional training for food scientists, nutritionists, dietitians, technologists, etc and implemented in an increasing number of households.
    Achieving this might be a good joint project for the “Partnerships” in Canada and the United States and a useful addition to the FIGHTBAC and Be Safe campaigns or a case study exercise for one or more universities, perhaps even a competition, with or without a prize.

  • For everybody who might need this nice presentation translated into Spanish, please post a message asking for it at “contactos” at the website http://www.fslasv.org. The translation is free and of course, authorized by Dr. Snyder.