Handwashing Times

On June 10th, I posted a blog entitled “Where do I wash my hands?” where I described the proper handwashing technique for workers. On June 12, I received a comment on the blog in my inbox,

Here is my response.
The FDA food code for workers recommends 10-15 seconds compared to the 20 seconds recommended by the CDC for consumers. The difference between the handwashing times is about 5 seconds.
Research has shown a minimum 10-15 second scrub is necessary to remove transient pathogens from the hands and when an antimicrobial soap is used, a minimum of 15 seconds is required. Soap is important for the surfactant effect in removing soil from the hands and a warm water temperature is important in achieving the maximum surfactant effect of the soap.

FDA Food Code 2009: Chapter 2 – Management and Personnel
2-301.12 Cleaning Procedure.

1. (A) Except as specified in ¶ (D) of this section, food employees shall clean their hands and exposed portions of their arms, including surrogate prosthetic devices for hands or arms for at least 20 seconds, using a cleaning compound in a handwashing sink that is equipped as specified under § 5-202.12 and Subpart 6-301. P
2. (B) Food employees shall use the following cleaning procedure in the order stated to clean their hands and exposed portions of their arms, including surrogate prosthetic devices for hands and arms:
1. (1) Rinse under clean, running warm water; P
2. (2) Apply an amount of cleaning compound recommended by the cleaning compound manufacturer; P
3. (3) Rub together vigorously for at least 10 to 15 seconds while:
1. (a) Paying particular attention to removing soil from underneath the fingernails during the cleaning procedure, P and
2. (b) Creating friction on the surfaces of the hands and arms or surrogate prosthetic devices for hands and arms, finger tips, and areas between the fingers; P
4. (4) Thoroughly rinse under clean, running warm water; P and
5. (5) Immediately follow the cleaning procedure with thorough drying using a method as specified under § 6-301.12. P
3. (C) To avoid recontaminating their hands or surrogate prosthetic devices, food employees may use disposable paper towels or similar clean barriers when touching surfaces such as manually operated faucet handles on a handwashing sink or the handle of a restroom door.
4. (D) If approved and capable of removing the types of soils encountered in the food operations involved, an automatic handwashing facility may be used by food employees to clean their hands or surrogate prosthetic devices.

Employee Health and Personal Hygiene Handbook – Personal Hygiene
What handwashing steps do food employees need to follow?

Clean hands and exposed portions of arms, including surrogate prosthetic devices for hands and arms, for at least 20 seconds by the following method:
1. Rinse under clean, warm running water;
2. Apply soap and rub all surfaces of the hands and fingers together vigorously with friction for at least 10 to 15 seconds, giving particular attention to the area under the fingernails, between the fingers/fingertips, and surfaces of the hands, arms, and surrogate prosthetic devices;
3. Rinse thoroughly with clean, warm running water; and
4. Thoroughly dry the hands and exposed portions of arms with single-use paper toweling, a heated-air hand-drying device, or a clean, unused towel from a continuous towel system that supplies the user with a clean towel.

Avoid recontamination of hands and arms by using a clean barrier, such as a paper towel, when turning off hand sink faucets or touching the handle of a restroom door.
Guideline for hand washing and hospital environmental control.
Garner, J.S. and Favero, M.S., Online Article, 1985. Handwashing. NTIS.

Hand washing with plain soaps or detergents (in bar, granules, leaflet, or liquid from) suspends millions of microorganisms and allows them to be rinsed off; this process is often referred to as mechanical removal of microorganisms. This process removes transient microorganisms. Handwashing with antimicrobial-containing products kills or inhibits the growth of microorganisms; this process is often referred to as the chemical removal of microorganisms (both transient and some resident microorganisms). Hand washing with plain soap for 15 seconds or less appears to be sufficient for most routine activities. For invasive procedures within hospitals or health care settings antimicrobial products may be used. When gloves are used, hand washing is recommended because gloves may become perforated during use and because bacterial can multiply rapidly on gloved hands.

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