by Luis Rivera, Food Safety Education Staff, Food Safety and Inspection Service, USDA
Couple watching television at home.The Holidays are now officially over and summer is still too far away to bear. This is the time of year when we are most likely to stay in and binge on some good old-fashioned TV. Sitting at home, all warm and cozy, surrounded by a plethora of snacks as far as the eye can see, is a perfectly satisfying way to watch the coldness of January pass by.
However, before you reach for that bowl of popcorn or grab a handful of chips from the tray, stop and ask yourself a very important question: Have my hands been properly washed recently? This is one of the simplest yet most effective ways to prevent the spread of many types of infection and illness, including foodborne illness. During these days of seemingly endless coughing and sniffling, we tend to touch our eyes, ears, and noses without even realizing it. In doing so, we can inadvertently be contaminating our food with a plethora of sickness-inducing germs.
When You Should Wash Your Hands
Before eating food.
Before, during, and after preparing food.
Before and after treating a cut or wound.
Before and after caring for someone who is sick.
After handling uncooked eggs, or raw meat, poultry, seafood, or their juices.
After blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.
After touching an animal or animal waste.
After touching garbage.
After using the toilet.
How You Should Wash Your Hands
The correct way to wash your hands involves warm water, soap, and 20 seconds. Rub your hands together to make a lather and scrub them well. Be sure to scrub the backs of your hands, between your fingers, and under your nails. Bacteria can hide out here too! That’s it! It is that simple! That is all it takes to keep yourself and those around you safe from the spread of germs. It doesn’t even interfere with your rigorous streaming schedule. As a bonus, studies have shown it can reduce respiratory illnesses, like colds, in the general population by 16-21%.
We all know that this is a tough part of the year to get through. Getting sick would only make this time of the year more unbearable, especially when it’s an illness you can prevent. So, wash those hands properly, enjoy your mid-winter comfort food safely, and plow through the hours of streaming shows that await you with the peace of mind knowing that you did your part this season.
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