The personal hygiene of workers, a problem that must be solved by the agri-food company.
In the 21st century, a Food Protection magazine published an article in which it analysed 816 food outbreaks produced in countries such as the United States, Canada, Europe or Australia, all of them being more than developed nations. The conclusion? Most of them were produced by the lack of hygiene since the workers manipulated the food with their bare hands.
Moreover, of course, many of them were infected with some bacteria or other pathogens, and besides, they did not pay attention that they have to wash their hands before eating. Moreover, of course, the solution is not easy. It is very complicated to maintain a more than strict control of the workers. And not only of clothing but also of health. If a worker who manipulates any food and is sick and goes to work, the result can be fatal.
Training as a solution.
The main solution that agri-food companies must take is to carry out rigorous training of the workers and to make sure that those who are sick do not go to their jobs. Which is not comfortable at all. Moreover, to the facts we refer: outbreaks of food contamination with noroviruses are almost always related to infected employees who come to work as if nothing had happened, which can cause gastroenteritis, vomiting, and diarrhoea in the consumer.
The hands are usually the focus of contagion of these bacteria, so agri-food companies must implement and maintain a proper routine of hand hygiene. It is an arduous task that is also necessary to comply with security legislation.
We must, therefore, make workers aware of good hygiene practices. New employees must receive full training in which the emphasis is on the proper techniques of hand washing and, above all, on the frequency of washing required, and the location of sinks and disinfection points.
Also, from time to time these habits should be encouraged among employees through communication campaigns or visual awareness materials. Workers should always bear in mind the importance of having clean hands and the danger of not complying with these hygiene habits.
Clean hands, healthy hands
Let’s go to the point. We have already made it clear that we must influence training. However, also, from Descale we want to give you a series of tips related to hand care that can surely prevent more than one from ending up with a broken stomach.
Learn to wash your hands
Although it seems something of truism is essential to teach workers to wash their hands properly. A small amount of soap should be applied, and we should rub our hands vigorously for at least 20 seconds. We must emphasize that all parts of the hand should be rubbed, including the back, wrists, fingers, and under nails. Afterwards, we should rinse ourselves very thoroughly, and use a disposable towel to dry ourselves. With that towel, we will close the tap to avoid possible contagions.
If washing hands again and again, while working consumes the specific productivity time, companies should invest in waterless cleansing products. So that the workers can clean their hands whenever it feels dirty, that too without wasting precious productivity time.
Select the cleaner you need
Choosing the most aggressive cleaner on the market is not the best solution. We must accept a cleaner that, apart from disinfecting, takes into account the impact on the hands without losing even a hint of effectiveness.
Improve the points where you wash your hands
The company should strive to have well-located and friendly hand cleaners for workers to locate quickly, whether they are in the restrooms or the food processing area. The more employees have these points, the easier it is to increase the number of times they clean their hands.
Gloves are not always the solution
The rational use of gloves in the food sector is recommended. They should only be used if the characteristics of the work or the worker so require, and we should not use them in the handling of food as a hygiene measure, it is preferable to wash your hands correctly and frequently. If it is necessary for workers to wear gloves, they must be made with non-allergenic materials and must be replaced at the time when practice or activity is changed to avoid cross-contamination.