Hand Washing and Food Safety
• 1847: While working in Vienna, Hungarian physician Ignaz Semmelweis (unaware of the germ theory of disease) institutes a policy of hand washing with chlorinated lime and observes a ten-fold drop in mortality rates at his maternity clinics.
• 1966: In the wake of the 1950 Staphylococcus epidemics, Mortimer et al. demonstrate that direct contact is the main form of disease transmission and that hand washing reduces the level of infection.
• 2009: The World Health Organization (WHO) highlights the importance of hand hygiene and launches guidelines and tools on the subject.
• Stop Foodborne Illness strongly supports hand washing and all educational efforts and programs aimed at improving hand washing. Proper hand washing (with soap, for 20 seconds, under warm water, and drying with a clean towel) can dramatically reduce the chances of cross-contamination and save lives from foodborne infections from unintentionally ingested pathogens.