If you visited any public building or restroom during the COVID-19 pandemic, you may have noticed an increased focus on handwashing and hygiene principles reflected in an abundance of signage on doors and in hallways. While it is great that public awareness has increased in the last 18 months, these have always been important principles, especially for all food-related businesses. Now, more than ever, is a great time to review and implement proper handwashing and hygiene practices and encourage employees to do the same.
Scientific studies support that properly washing hands for 20 seconds with soap and water will lead to a significant reduction of microorganisms on hands and will remove transient organisms. Maintaining good personal hygiene also plays an important role in preventing disease transmission by preventing cross-contamination of pathogens to food and food contact surfaces.
In 2020, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported a 26% decrease in incidence of infections caused by enteric foodborne pathogens, an unprecedented drop in foodborne illness infections compared to 2017–19 data. An increase of proper handwashing and personal hygiene were cited as contributors to this decline. While these principles have been the building blocks of food-safety programs for years; it seems some people are finally taking them more seriously.
Practicing proper handwashing and good personal hygiene is not a new concept in the produce industry. The Guide to Minimize Microbial Food Safety Hazards for Fresh Fruits and Vegetables was released in 1998. Among the eight major principles, worker health and hygiene focuses on the importance of training workers on proper handwashing techniques and good hygiene practices. In 2011, the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) Produce Safety Rule went into effect requiring farms to have a documented worker training program that also focuses on handwashing and hygiene.
Workers play an important role in preventing contamination by foodborne pathogens on the farm. When training workers, it is important to focus on: …..
Learn m,po0re about how to Stay Vigilant on Handwashing and Hygiene on the Citrus Industry website.