(Meredith / USDA) – A new study by the US Department of Agriculture shows that hand washing before meals fails to clean hands 97 percent of the time. Rushed hand washing can lead to cross-contamination of food and other surfaces, leading to food-borne illnesses.
"As the mother of three young children, I am very familiar with the frenzied beat that families go through to put food on the table," said Carmen Rottenberg, Deputy Undersecretary for Food Security at the USDA. "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."
[Mobile users click here to read the full study in detail]
 Preliminary results from the observational study conducted by USDA in collaboration with RTI International and North Carolina State University showed some results.
- The study found that consumers do not wash their hands 97 percent properly
- Most consumers have not washed the necessary 20 seconds.
- Numerous participants have not dried their hands with a clean towel
Results show that only 34 percent of participants used a food thermometer to verify that their burgers were cooked properly. Of those who used the nourishment thermometer, almost half still did not cook the burgers to the safe minimum internal temperature.
The study showed participants spreading bacteria from raw poultry to other surfaces and foods in the test kitchen
- 48 percent of the time contaminate spice containers that are used during burgers preparation.
- 11 percent of the time bacteria spread to fridge handles.
- Five percent of the time tainting salads are due to cross-contamination
The United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate that 48 million Americans suffer from food-borne illnesses each year, resulting in approximately 128,000 hospital admissions and 3,000 deaths , Particularly at risk are children, older adults and people with weakened immune systems.
With the barbecue season, the USDA recalls using a food-grade thermometer to cook meat and poultry products at recommended indoor temperatures. When cooking meat and chicken patties, insert the thermometer through the side of the patty until the probe reaches the center of the patty. Meat and poultry products are produced when this minimum internal temperature is reached:
- Beef, pork, lamb and veal (steaks, roasts and chops): 145 ° F
- Minced meat (burgers): 160 ° F
- 19659006 ] Poultry (whole or ground): 165 ° F
After handling raw meat, poultry or eggs, wash hands thoroughly with soap and water. Make sure you wash for a full 20 seconds, and always dry your hands with a clean towel.
More information about this study can be found here.
Do you have questions? Need more information on food safety? Call the USDA Meat and Poultry Hotline at 1-888-MP-HOTLINE (1-888-674-6854). Live food safety experts are available Monday through Friday from 10am to 6pm. Easter. Expert advice is also available at AskKaren.gov.