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People do not wash hands correctly 97 percent of time

04 July 2018

People are not taking serious the number of illnesses they can catch after eating contaminated food.

Since CDC data shows around 128,000 Americans get hospitalised due to foodborne illnesses every year, we're guessing the USDA is already producing their next instructional video. Children, older adults and those with compromised immune systems are especially at risk.

Food safety inspectors from the US Department of Agriculture brought nearly 400 participants to a test kitchen in North Carolina and had them prepare a faux meal - including washing their hands beforehand. Unknown to the participants, the turkey had been "spiked" with harmless tracer microorganisms.

The same study observed people's use of a food thermometer, which is recommended for cooking meat and poultry products.

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Each of the participants was videotaped in the test kitchen. A study done in 2013 by Michigan State University found only 5 percent of people washed their hands correctly. Their most common error was not rubbing their hands with soap for at least 20 seconds, followed by not washing their hands at all.

"There were many, many times in the course of the study that people had the opportunity to wash their hands - almost 1,200 opportunities", Rottenberg told NBC News.

Five percent of the participants transferred the tracer microorganisms to the lettuce in the salads they prepared. About half of the participants watched a three-minute video before preparing food. Instead, they relied on the burger's color and "feel" to judge whether it was safe to eat - methods that have been shown to be unreliable.

Accordingly, almost half of the spice containers used by study participants in the control group (who did not watch the thermometer video) were contaminated.

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What is the right way to wash your hands? Then, rub both hands with the soap. Many of them also didn't wet their hands before lathering up, and didn't dry their hands properly after rinsing.

The process should happen with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Need a timer? Hum the "Happy Birthday" song from beginning to end twice. The CDC has some tips, starting with an obvious step: wetting hands with clean, running water. If you don't have access to one, air dry your hands before using them.

That clean towel is important. That included E. coli and Staphylococcus aureus, often referred to as "staph".

FMI: You can read the FSIS report online.

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People do not wash hands correctly 97 percent of time