If you’ve ever suffered gastrointestinal distress after a summer barbecue, it might not have been the potato salad—it might have been someone’s terrible food safety practices. Specifically, they probably didn’t wash their hands.
Handwashing is the simplest, most remedial-level food safety practice, but according to a recent USDA study, most people can’t be bothered. By “most,” I don’t mean a scant fifty-one percent—I mean that the participants in this study skipped washing their hands nearly every single time they could. Here’s how Carmen Rottenberg, a top food safety official at the USDA, puts it:
“There were many, many times in the course of the study that people had the opportunity to wash their hands — nearly 1,200 opportunities,” Rottenberg told NBC News. Yet people failed almost all of the time, close to 98 percent of the time, the team found.
Now for the kicker: this study was designed to test the efficacy of a new video on proper meat thermometer usage, not the state of hand-washing practices in American home kitchens. This finding was completely accidental—and completely horrifying.
In case you’ve somehow forgotten, wetting is not washing, people. If you’re not scrubbing your hands with soap under running water, they’re not getting clean. For situations where running water isn’t available, alcohol- or bleach-based hand wipes are the next best thing: hand sanitizer effectively kills germs, but they’ll stick around on your skin until you rinse them off.
Photo: Christin Hume (Unsplash)