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The Case For Added Hand Wash/Cleanse/Sanitize Protocols

Jim Mann's picture

Light duty hand cleaning may increase frequency

The Model Food Code serves as a minimum standard, providing a foundation on which operators can build solutions tailored to their operation and their assessment of risk.

There is an unresolved handwashing dilemma in the Model Food Code in that it prescribes the same wash whether the hands are very lightly contaminated (visibly unsoiled) or are heavily soiled. The identical 15 second scrub time is specified for both.

Intuitively this doesn't make sense to the kitchen staff. Some, perhaps many, compensate by not washing at all when hands are seen as unsoiled. This likely accounts for over half of the 8.6 hand washes per employee hour identified in a CDC observational study as the number required to conform to the Model Food Code. (J Food Prot. 2006 Oct;69(10):2417-23)

Try washing your hands with a 15 second scrub time. It can seem like an eternity to a busy worker with unsoiled, but perhaps contaminated, hands.

Would it be better to lower the minimum hand wash time in the Model Food Code to 10 seconds or specify a choice of two hand washes with the longer having a scrub time of 50% more for a total of 15 seconds?

Yes, it could be argued that a choice of hand washes creates an added challenge to training. But is that a higher hurdle than overcoming the instinctual reaction to washing a visually clean hand for 15 seconds?

The code should also acknowledge the time or times as minimums because even 15 seconds is insufficient when following tasks such as deboning raw chicken.

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