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Glossary beginning with P

A glossary of technical terms related to handwashing. Select a letter above to begin.



A far-reaching infectious disease outbreak that spreads through human populations across a country, continent or worldwide. In order for the World Health Organization (WHO) to declare a pandemic, the following three conditions must be met:

1. The microbe infects and causes serious illness in humans
2. Humans do not have immunity against the virus
3. The virus spreads easily from person-to-person and survives within humans

On June 12, 2009, WHO declared H1Ni Flu a pandemic. Previous pandemics include smallpox, tuberculosis, malaria and more recently HIV.


A microorganism that feeds and depends on a host for food. Parasites that cause foodborne illness include, Giardia lamblia, Entamoeba histolytica and Taenia solium.


A heat treatment of food that effectively reduces or kills disease causing bacteria. Dairy products such as eggs and milk that are not pasteurized may contain large amounts of pathogenic bacteria such as Salmonella, Campylobacter and Yersinia.


A disease-causing microorganism found in food or water. Microorganisms may be infective pathogens that cause illness when they multiply in the body (Hepatitis A, Campylobacter, Salmonella); or toxin-producing pathogens that produce toxins when they multiply in food (Staphylococcus)

Pathogenic Bacteria

Bacteria such as Salmonella, Shigella, E. coli O157:H7, Campylobacter and Listeria monocytogenes that cause illness. These bacteria generally do not affect the taste, smell, or appearance of food. Food left at unsafe temperature could be dangerous to eat, but smell and look fine.

Person-To-Person Transmission

The transfer of disease from one person directly to another. Infection can be transmitted from person-to-person by skin-to-skin contact (clothes, towels, sport equipment), blood-to-blood (transfusions), mother to fetus, sexual intercourse, coughing, sneezing and kissing. In a foodservice setting, stool-to-mouth (fecal-oral) spread, usually via dirty hands or utensils can cause many gastrointestinal tract illnesses. While foodborne illness may originate from a specific food (ex. Norovirus infected lettuce, Salmonella from undercooked chicken or raw eggs), many people may become ill from the person-to-person spread of the pathogen via the fecal-oral route.

Personal Hygiene

Healthy habits that include bathing, wearing clean clothing and, most importantly, washing hands frequently before handling edibles to insure the safe delivery of food.


Pulsed-Field Gel Electrophoresis, developed in 1984, PFGE has become the gold standard for bacterial sub-typing and is the primary sub-typing method used by PulseNet, a network of public health laboratories that perform PFGE on foodborne disease organisms.


Person In Charge, the individual present at a food establishment who is responsible for the operation at the time of inspection.

Plan Review

A formal process by which foodservice operators and regulators come together to minimize risks associated with new construction, remodeling or new ownership. "Identify hazards while still on paper." The positive outcome of a Plan Review is the issuing of an appropriate permit to operate, confirming that current standards have been met.

Potentially Hazardous Foods

Foods such as unpasteurized dairy products, chicken, undercooked meat and fresh fruits and vegetables that are often implicated in foodborne illness outbreaks.

Poultry Litter

Poultry companies hire chicken farms to raise birds. When they are taken away for slaughter, the bedding they were raised on and their droppings are know as "poultry litter" and is spread on farmland as low-cost fertilizer.

Primary Production

Steps in the food chain up to and including harvesting, slaughter, milking and fishing among others.

Priority Foundation Item

Any rule in the FDA Food Code labeled a priority foundation item supports one or more priority items. Examples include personnel training, infrastructure, necessary equipment, HACCP plans, documentation and labeling. Priority foundation items are identified within the 2009 Food Code with a superscript Pf - Pf. (see FDA Food Code Chapter 1 : http://www.fda.gov/Food/FoodSafety/RetailFoodProtection/FoodCode/FoodCod...)

Priority Item

Any rule in the FDA Food Code labeled a priority item contributes directly to the elimination, prevention or reduction of hazards associated with foodborne illness. Controls dealing with cooking, reheating, cooling and handwashing are all considered priority items. Priority items are identified within the 2009 Food Code with a superscript P - P. (see FDA Food Code Chapter 1 : http://www.fda.gov/Food/FoodSafety/RetailFoodProtection/FoodCode/FoodCod...


A template, resulting in proficiency grade, used to score employee handwashing quality. Also used by the foodservice operator to establish a standard for all employees preparing, transporting or serving food.

HandsOn™ System

HandsOn System

5 steps to convert underwashing to under control. Set and track your risk-based ServeReady® Hands and TouchReady® Surface standards.

SaniTwice® for Catered Events

SaniTwice for Catered Events

Uncompromised hand cleanliness for those serving food at venues without running water.

Teaching Videos

Teaching Videos

Globally recognized for their ease of use in any language. Available in DVD and MP4 file download.

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