This article originally appeared in Food Manufacturing's November/December 2014 print issue.
The Food Manufacturing Brainstorm features industry experts sharing their perspectives on issues critical to the overall food industry marketplace.
In this issue, we ask: What plant cleanliness techniques and best practices can food manufacturers employ to improve food safety in their facilities?
Hand hygiene — handwashing with soap and water or using an alcohol-based hand sanitizer when soap and water isn’t available — is a best practice that every food manufacturing facility can employ to help improve its overall safety.
First, in order for hand hygiene to be practiced it must be feasible. This means that workers must have access to either soap and water or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer. In order to achieve this, plants need to consider where all of the possible hand hygiene opportunities within their facility are. This includes, for example, where there is a chance of cross contamination. In addition, workers should be encouraged to practice hand hygiene before and after starting work.
The next step is for employers to promote a healthy workforce and food safety by instituting hand hygiene education and product solutions. GOJO recommends:
Ensuring all hand soap dispensers are available, filled and in good working order;
Establishing norms and etiquette for good hand hygiene; and
Building a culture of good hand hygiene that includes handwashing, hand sanitizing and hand moisturizing. Hand
cleaners that clean and condition effectively are more apt to be used and thus more likely to deliver full benefits.
And finally, it is important to remind individuals of proper handwashing and hand sanitizing techniques. For handwashing, the entire process should take at least 20 seconds. A good practice is to wet hands with water, apply enough soap to cover all hand surfaces, rub hands palm to palm and carefully scrub fingers, the back and front of hands and each thumb. Rinse hands with water and gently dry hands with a clean paper towel.
The hand sanitizing process should take about 15 seconds. Apply a palmful of alcohol-based hand sanitizer into your hands, covering all surfaces; rub the sanitizer into the palms of your hands, fingers, back and front of hands and thumbs. Continuing rubbing hands together until hands are dry.
Hand hygiene is critical to your facility’s safety because poor worker hygiene could undermine other sanitary practices.
Dave Schumaker, Microbiologist, GOJO