The importance of hand hygiene in the food industry

There are many points along the food production chain that contamination can occur, including production, processing, distribution and preparation. Ensuring efficient hand hygiene is practiced in food processing plants is vital to help fight against food contamination and prevent the spread of viruses in the workplace. Hand hygiene is now a priority; it is no longer something that should be done, but rather it needs to be practiced frequently and correctly. According to Professor Patrick Wall, two potential causes of food-borne illness outbreaks are inadequate hygiene facilities for staff, and poorly trained and supervised staff. (1) Hand hygiene in the food production industry has never been more critical and quality training and education is now essential.

Hand Hygiene Food Production Chain (2)

Staff Personal Hygiene

It only takes one person to spread harmful pathogens through contaminated hands in a facility. Everyone has the responsibility to maintain personal hygiene including staff, visitors, contractors, maintenance and any other person visiting the premises. A significant part of personal hygiene is hand washing, which is continuously perceived as a simple task despite its complexity. Not only do personnel need to know how to clean their hands, they also need to know when to. This includes upon entry into the food processing area, after using the toilet, after touching their face, before and after breaks etc. Fundamentally, workers should wash their hands anytime they believe their hands are contaminated. Even when gloves are used, it is important that hands are cleaned when donning and doffing. The problem is, workers are not educated or even not motivated enough for this to be a priority.

The Spread of COVID-19

Food contamination has always been a risk in the food industry, however, COVID-19 now brings new worries. Although COVID-19 has resulted in many industries working remotely, the food sector does not enable this opportunity. The World Health Organization (WHO) believe it is highly unlikely that people can contract COVID-19 from food or food packaging as it is a respiratory illness. However, if just one person contracts this virus within a meat/food factory, it can spread rapidly to other employees. This has a significant financial impact as plants may need to be closed and production suspended. Also, food plants reputation will be damaged as it can be perceived they have not implemented stringent hygiene measures. The WHO strongly advise that the food industry introduce physical distancing, hygiene and sanitation measures and promote frequent and effective hand washing. Along with this, they encourage the reinforcement of personal hygiene and refresher training. (3)

The SureWash Solution: Education & Training

These actions advised by the WHO will help maintain a healthy workforce, but also reduce the chances of food contamination. Hand hygiene has always been an integral part of food plant hygiene but coronavirus has amplified the need for more education and training. However, classroom setting learning will not suffice, and that is why SureWash brings hand hygiene training into the workplace environment. SureWash  provides quality training and education to the WHO protocol, helping food production facilities improve hand hygiene quality by training staff, contractors and visitors. What better way to ensure the safety of your workforce than by training them to the standard of healthcare workers? SureWash is currently used in over 200 hospitals globally to help reduce the spread of infections. Why not start your own hand hygiene journey with us also?

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