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Poor hand wash habits spread dangerous bacteria, warns USDA



WASHINGTON –

Americans are risking food poisoning by not washing their hands properly when handling food, according to new research.

Participants in a recent study failed hand wash at 97 percent. At that time, the United States Department of Agriculture often found that they did not wash their hands for 20 seconds or dry their washed hands with a clean towel.

Almost half of those who have not thoroughly washed their hands after handling meat later contaminated salt and pepper shakers with bacteria from the meat. Others contaminated the fridge handle of the test kitchens, the handle of the sink, their cell phone and salad to prepare a salad.

On its website, the USDA encouraged consumers to take five steps to wash their hands: wet hands with clean water and lather hands with soap, scrub hands for at least 20 seconds, rinse hands with clean water, and dry hands with a clean towel.

"As a mother of three young children, I am very familiar with the crazy line that families undergo dinner on the table," said Carmen Rottenberg, deputy Undersecretary of the US Department of Agriculture for Food Safety, in a press release. "You can not see, smell, or feel bacteria, just by washing your hands properly, you can protect your family and prevent bacteria from contaminating your food and key areas in your kitchen."

The broader study has been associated with food preparation habits such as thermometer use. The USDA observed research participants in a test kitchen and found that those who saw a video on food safety were twice as likely to use a food thermometer to check the dignity of meat as those in a separate group who did not watch the video.

Among those who watched the video, just over half used the thermometer correctly, and only 23 percent of those who did not watch the video were able to properly measure the meat's internal temperature.


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