The Importance of Handwashing in Food Preparation

Hand hygiene plays a critical role in preventing foodborne illnesses. Proper handwashing techniques can significantly reduce the risk of contamination in food preparation areas, ensuring both food safety and personal health. According to the CDC, handwashing can reduce diarrhoea-related illnesses by 30% and respiratory infections by 20%. Here’s how to do it right:

Step-by-Step Guide to Proper Handwashing

  1. Wet Your Hands: Use clean, running water (warm or cold) to wet your hands. Turn off the tap and apply soap.
  2. Lather Your Hands: Rub your hands together with the soap, making sure to lather the backs of your hands, between your fingers, and under your nails.
  3. Scrub for at Least 20 Seconds: Need a timer? Hum the “Happy Birthday” song from beginning to end twice.
  4. Rinse Your Hands: Use clean, running water to rinse off the soap.
  5. Dry Your Hands: Use a clean towel or air dry your hands.
  6. Sanitise Your Hands: Finish off with an alcohol-based hand sanitiser, rub it into your hands and let it dry.

Why Handwashing is Essential

  • Prevents Foodborne Illnesses: Proper handwashing reduces the risk of contaminating food with pathogens like E. coli and Salmonella.
  • Keeps You Healthy: Regular handwashing is one of the most effective ways to remove germs, avoid getting sick, and prevent the spread of germs to others.
  • Reduces Disease Spread: Handwashing can prevent the spread of respiratory and diarrhoeal infections, protecting not just yourself but also those around you.

Statistics on Handwashing and Health

  • Diarrhoea Reduction: Handwashing with soap can reduce diarrhoea cases by up to 30% (CDC).
  • Respiratory Infection Reduction: Proper hand hygiene can reduce respiratory infections, like colds, by 20% (CDC).
  • Global Impact: If everyone washed their hands regularly, it could prevent approximately 1 million deaths annually (UNICEF).


Hand hygiene is a simple yet powerful tool in the fight against foodborne illnesses and the spread of infectious diseases. By following proper handwashing techniques, you can ensure the safety of the food you prepare and contribute to overall public health.