Hand Washing Isn’t Just About Covid-19
We’ve all become experts at washing hands, regardless of the jobs we do or the places we go. Every single restaurant, pub or hotel has a highly visible set of protocols in place for hand washing and sanitising, and staff and customers alike are expected to play their part and stick to the guidance.
But in the middle of all the focus on Covid-19, it’s important to remember the requirements when it comes to hand washing and food preparation. The consequences of not doing this properly are significant, especially in a food service setting.
Hand washing legislation is in place, primarily, to prevent the causes and communication of food poisoning. According to the Nationwide Caterers Association, faecal bacteria are present on 26% of hands in the UK, 14% of banknotes and 10% of credit cards. That doesn’t even take into account sources of poisoning like salmonella and listeria. So, if your business doesn’t follow these guidelines and someone falls ill, the chances are that you will be liable.
It’s important to remember that it’s a legal obligation to ensure that hand washing facilities are up to standard in any establishment that prepares or sells food. These should be separate from a toilet facility and not in the same place as the public can wash their hands. It must have hot and cold water available, and you need to remember that alcohol gels, so vital in so many ways, are not acceptable on their own as a means of hand washing, according to the legislation.
They can and should be used within the hand washing system but with other cleansing components. Anti-bacterial soaps are ideal. Specific drying materials should be available, such as paper towels or an air-dry option.
It can be tempting to mix the current Covid-19 guidelines with the existing hand washing guidelines related to food production, but it is vital to remember that if you do this, you will not be given a food hygiene rating next time you are inspected. If you don’t have a separate hand washing unit, you are likely to lose your stars and you may even be closed down until the matter is resolved.
In the end, operating with good hand washing protocols that meet or exceed the legal standards is essential. Not just so that your business remains compliant, and not only due to the current fight against Covid-19. Ultimately, your customers won’t return if they can see that your staff and products aren’t up to standard. And in the long term, that will affect your sales just as badly as falling foul of the legislation would.
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