Sunday, February 3, 2013

Hey You, Wash Those Hands

Once upon a time I spent a great deal of time doing the orientation for new employees. I had to make sure they were aware of this policy, that standard, the usual thing we have all been thru on a new job. The one thing I always hated was doing the hygiene lesson. In the beginning, it went something like this. Wash your hands, wash your hands and what else was it, Oh yea, wash your hands. This usually earned me a smile or chuckle from the new employee. To be honest, at the time, I felt this was sufficient. It had never crossed my mind that someone wouldn’t know how to wash their hands, PROPERLY.

Let’s start with how to properly wash your hands when dealing with food.  First always use soap, a water rinse does very little to clean microbes from your hands. Wash your hand from the elbow down; be sure to wash vigorously including between the fingers and back of the forearm. Don’t forget your nails; the method I use is to scratch each palm with the nails of the opposite hand. This insures soap gets under the nails. Wash for at least 30seconds; sing “Happy Birthday” or “The Alphabet Song” in your head. It may sound silly but it is better than standing there going 1,2,3,4 and will insure a proper wash. Next, Rinse your hands thoroughly and dry with a CLEAN towel.

This is where I have seen the most chefs and cooks fail the system. In a professional kitchen and in most homes, you always have a towel handy while cooking. I kept on tucked in the front of my apron at all times. Many times I have watched people do a wonderful job of washing their hands and then dry them on a dirty towel. If you do this, guess what, it’s time to wash your hands again.

 I know many times in a busy kitchen there doesn’t seem to be time to wash. This is true whether you are at home cooking dinner or at work in a restaurant but hand washing is rated as the number 1 way of preventing the spread of illness. So take the time and Wash Those Hands.

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