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How do I wash my hands to prevent food poisoning?

Deborah Beauvais
Nutrition & Dietetics

Proper hand washing may eliminate nearly half of all cases of foodborne illness and significantly reduce the spread of the common cold and flu.

Hand washing should take place:

Before You...
  • Handle or prepare food
  • Eat meals
  • Feed children

After You...

  • Prepare food
  • Touch raw food, especially meats
  • Switch food preparation tasks
  • Touch eggs and egg-rich foods
  • Use the restroom
  • Change a diaper
  • Cough or sneeze
  • Handle garbage, dirty dishes
  • Smoke a cigarette
  • Pet animals
  • Use the phone
  • Touch face, hair, body, other people
  • Touch a cut or sore
  • Clean or touch dirty laundry

How to do it.......

  • Hands should be washed in warm, soapy water .
  • Always wash your hands front and back up to your wrists, between fingers and under fingernails.
  • Never forget to wash your hands after switching tasks, such as handling raw meat and then cutting vegetables.
  • Dry hands with disposable paper towels, clean cloth towels or air dry.
  • Sing two choruses of "Happy Birthday" while you lather up, cleaning your hands for 20 seconds.
Proper hand washing is one of the most important things you can do to protect yourself and your family from foodborne illness or food poisoning. In fact, it can eliminate nearly half of all cases. So grab the soap and follow these directions:
  • Wash your hands thoroughly in warm, soapy water for at least 20 seconds before, after and during food preparation. This is especially important after handling raw meat or seafood.
  • Always wash your hands front and back and up to your wrists, between fingers and under fingernails.
  • Dry your hands with disposable paper towels or a clean towel. If soap and water isn't available, use hand sanitizer.

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    Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.