Rinse and Repeat: How Often You Really Need to Wash Your Hands When Preparing Food

By December 8, 2021 Uncategorized
Son helping father prepare vegetables for meal

For nearly two centuries, handwashing has been one of the best ways to prevent the spread of germs. According to a 2020 survey by the Bradley Corporation, before the COVID-19 pandemic, 37% of Americans washed their hands six or more times a day. This percentage then spiked to 78% in April 2020. Now people are much more attuned to the CDC’s recommendations to wash hands after coughing, sneezing, or touching anything unsanitary.

The CDC also encourages people to wash their hands before, during, and after preparing food, in order to prevent foodborne illness. If someone consumes food contaminated with bacteria such as Salmonella, Listeria, or E. Coli, it can cause serious and even life-threatening ailments. But how often is it necessary, and in which cases?

Handling Raw Food

Your dinner recipe may require the preparation of meat, eggs, poultry, or seafood. While delicious when cooked, in their raw state these can contain harmful bacteria. Your hands could then spread the bacteria to other foods or surfaces in your kitchen, causing cross-contamination. Washing your hands thoroughly before and after handling raw food (and also washing any knives or cutting boards immediately afterward) can keep you and your dinner guests safe.

Touching Your Face

People touch their faces about 23 times per hour. It’s such a human habit that many don’t realize they do it. While cooking, you may have to push up your glasses, scratch your nose, or rub your eyes. But your eyes and nose are entry and exit paths for respiratory infections. Handling food after touching your face is one way to spread those germs accidentally. It is best to avoid touching your face as much as possible, but if you do, remember to wash your hands before getting back to cooking!

Picking Up Your Phone

These days, most of us are touching and carrying our smartphones constantly. We hold them up to our faces, put them in often-used pockets, and sometimes even cough or sneeze on them. Because of this, smartphones can carry 25,127 bacteria per square inch and are one of the dirtiest objects we touch daily. You may depend on your smartphone to show you the recipe you are working on, but wash your hands after tapping or scrolling to prevent spreading any bacteria to your meal. 

Connecting with Unclean Surfaces

When preparing food, you have to open the fridge, the oven, cupboards, turn the sink on and off, and more. Remember to keep these surfaces safe and sanitary, and wash your hands after touching unsanitized surfaces. As Dr. William P Sawyer, a physician in Sharonville, Ohio told the New York Times, “Your hands are only clean until the next surface you touch.” The key to clean hands and clean food is to stay conscious of what you touch, and wash your hands afterward if you’re unsure.

LifeBrite is here to help you learn more about the importance of handwashing and preventing the spread of germs. Our team is dedicated to serving our community with individualized and quality patient care. To learn more about our services or to make an appointment, visit us online or call (336) 593-2831.

Learn more about LifeBrite

Atlanta-based LifeBrite, led by CEO Christian Fletcher, operates LifeBrite Community Hospital of Early, LifeBrite Community Hospital of Stokes, and Lifebrite Laboratories. To learn more about our services and facilities, visit our website or call (336) 593-2831.