Food & Drink » Glenda Bartosh on Food

Keep it clean, eh?

When it comes to basic hygiene, mom may not have known best



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The same ASM phone survey also revealed that only 58 per cent of people said they wash their hands after sneezing or coughing; only 77 per cent said they wash their hands after changing a diaper. Yuk. Remember that next time you pick up your kids from daycare. And if you factor in the discrepancy ratio, the reality is likely far worse.

Then there’s the issue of technique. I’m sure if you asked that young woman I shared a washroom with, she’d insist that she had washed her hands, even though she hadn’t even come close. And she’s not the only one whose approach falls short. One survey conducted after people washed their hands in public washrooms using a special soap sensitive to black light showed in full UV reality that people hadn’t washed large areas of their hands, especially the backs.

It’s kind of weird, but as commonsensical as hand washing is, or should be, a lot of people don’t have a clue. And don’t necessarily fall back on what your mom taught you. Her techniques may not be the greatest, unless she was a member of the ASM. Here’s what they advise.

Wash your hands before you:

• Prepare or eat food

• Treat a cut or wound

• Tend to someone who's sick

• Put in or take out contact lenses

• Do any kind of activity that involves putting your fingers in or near your eyes, nose or mouth.

And wash after you:

• Go to the bathroom

• Handle uncooked foods, especially raw meat

• Eat

• Blow your nose, cough or sneeze

• Handle garbage

• Tend to someone who's sick

• Change a diaper

• Play with or touch a pet, especially reptiles and exotic animals

So how do you do it? Now listen up, girl-in-the-washroom: first of all use soap – a good slather of it. It suspends microbes and surface dirt and oils, so they can be rinsed away. And use warm water – if it’s too hot you won’t keep your hands in it long enough to do a good job of washing and rinsing.

Wash your hands for at least 15-20 seconds, and make sure you rinse them well – that sloughs off all the bad stuff the soap suspends. Time yourself by singing "Happy Birthday" through twice. Do it out loud and you’ll really have fun if you’re in a public venue.