Proper hand hygiene is a major factor in preventing contamination of food and food contact surfaces in all food service establishments. It is vitally important in preventing healthcare acquired infections in all healthcare facilities.

Proper education and compliance in hand washing is a critical necessity in any institution that directly contacts the public consumer or indirectly serves what they ingest.

The CDC cites that the majority of hospitals have an average hand washing compliance rate of around 50%. The most important factor in compliance is the intrinsic reward to the employees who recognize that they are protecting the patients that they care for. Extrinsic rewards, ie, monetary, have been found to be less effective.

General Hand Washing Facts (1):

  • Most bacteria on our hands are on the fingertips and under the nails
  • Most people wash the palms of their hands and miss their thumbs
  • Bacterial count is highest on the dominant hand. Yet most people wash their opposite hand more thoroughly.
  • Only 20% of people dry their hands after washing
  • Reusable cloth towels harbor millions of bacteria. Disposable paper towels are the most sanitary means of drying hands.
  • Mayo Clinic has suggested that 12 seconds of hand washing is most effective

CDC Guidelines for Great Hygiene:

  • Wet your hands first with water
  • Apply the recommended amount of soap to your hands
  • Rub your hands together vigorously, covering all surfaces of the hands and fingers
  • Rinse your hands with water and use disposable towels to dry
  • Use towel to turn off the faucet

Hand washing and hand hygiene initiatives greatly reduce the number of employee absences, sick leaves and lost productivity. And while the act of washing your hands is important, it is equally as important to make sure you’re cleaning your hands at the right times. For more information on this, visit the CDC.


How thorough is your hand hygiene?  Leave a comment and join the conversation

Gary Russotti, MD, MS

Idea Boxx – Director of Medical/Biochemical R&D and Regulatory Compliance


  1.  Walpuck, D. “ Employee Hygiene and Hand Washing in Retail Food Service Establishments”. Food Safety   Magazine. March 2016. p. 1-5.