One of the startling facts is that 10 million bacteria can fit on a pin head and these 10 million bacteria can double every minute! Infected hands are responsible for 80% of the common infectious diseases. The majority of these illnesses last a short time and cause minor symptoms, such as nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. Controlling food-related illness is difficult because foods may become contaminated during preparation, cooking or storage, some foods are eaten raw and it is possible for bacteria to survive food processing. While there are many instances in which food contamination can occur during processing, 40 per cent of all food-borne illness outbreaks are a direct result of hand contamination. It is therefore recommended that hand washing procedures be implemented and strictly monitored.
Correct hand hygiene requires proper protocol conducted at frequent intervals to prevent infection using appropriate hand washing or cleansing agent. High risk areas, for instance, where food is processed or prepared, require the strictest level of compliance.
When soap and water are not available or hands are not visibly soiled, an alcohol-based hand sanitizer may be used to cleanse hands. While common sense dictates hands should be washed before handling food, there are many other occasions when hands must be washed like while working in a food processing environment. Sanitizing of hands is important after touching body parts; using a washroom; coughing, sneezing or using a tissue; changing tasks, especially if switching between working with raw meat and ready to eat or cooked foods; handling money, garbage, tools or equipment; touching dirty surfaces; picking up something from the floor; and engaging in any activity that contaminates hands.
Many of these activities are carried out unconsciously. Therefore education and training to create awareness are vital to the success of a good food safety program. Food handling staff should undergo a medical examination and must receive detailed instruction in personal hygiene and be required to undergo a test of their knowledge on the subject. Refresher courses need be given periodically to ensure that hygiene standards are maintained.
Hand Hygiene in the pharmaceutical industry
The use of antiseptics and disinfectants is an important component of a contamination control program in the pharmaceutical industry. The following antiseptic agents are used by cleanroom operators in the pharmaceutical industry: isopropyl alcohol, hexachlorophene, chlorhexidine, povidone-iodine, and chlorhexidine alcohol. Although only isopropyl alcohol and povidone iodine have universal acceptance for safety and efficacy for use in industry (pharmaceutical, vaccine, tissue bank) or healthcare practice, the most frequently used antiseptic is Ethyl alcohol solution.
The trend today is moving towards non alcoholic cleansers ad sanitizers.
Hand Hygiene in the hospitality industry
When it comes to hospitality, we know that an exceptional hygiene standard is a crucial element for keeping staff and customers happy, healthy and safe. The day-to-day requirements of hygiene in the hospitality business are measured on two criteria – staff requirements and customer requirements. Achieving the balance of expectations is often difficult and costly, and many traditional options cannot provide the control of expenditure whilst delivering the required hygiene performance.
In addition to foodborne illnesses, the hospitality industry has to deal with illnesses such as Norovirus, the common cold, flu epidemics and other pathogens. Norovirus alone causes 267 million cases of acute gastro-enteritis worldwide annually and is the most reported viral infection worldwide after the common cold. If strict hand and surface hygiene protocols are not observed, it can result in continued outbreaks at the same location. Hand-washing is recognized as the simplest and most effective way of reducing the rate not only of airborne pathogens such as Norovirus, seasonal flu and the common cold, but food borne illnesses.
From the larger perspective, it is imperative that one focuses on the key objectives:
• Control of cross contamination
• Professional appearance
• Cost reduction
• Waste reduction.
General Manager – Marketing & Business Development