A new evidence-based standard for a Clean Hand
Many well-intentioned advisers have failed to help operators change handwashing behaviors in Foodservice. Their vague advice, starting with the FDA’s Model Food Code, is not actionable. A synonym for vague is lacking definition and surprisingly, there is no definition for a Clean Hand.
These 7 steps are the sequence for a restaurateur to define his or her operation’s Clean Hand. It will become the standard for their motivating and training.
- Agree the Problem:
Operators choose handwashing protocols based on risk, much like they select cooking times and temperatures, but with one exception. Handwashing doesn’t have the equivalent time/temperature science. There is no numerically supported definition for a Clean Hand.
- Assess Risk:
Risk starts with the vulnerabilities of the people served. What is their profile by age and wellness? Next is the menu and its inherent hazards. The equipment’s location and touchless features play a part as does the quality of chemicals and paper towels.
Finally, what is our workforce’s trainability and our span of control?
A Clean Hand in the foodservice and food processing industries is one that is unlikely to transfer pathogens from the hand to food, surfaces or directly to other people.
The current research project, Operator’s Choice, seeks to add the numerics to this verbal expression.
A Handwash is the process of yielding a Clean Hand, a Ready-to-Serve Hand®
- Set Standards for Success:
Standards represent the best current thinking. They summarize a complex network of decisions based on the operation’s priorities which includes their tolerance for risk. Standards are mission-critical for staff training, help engage the team and align priorities from the boardroom to the dish room.
- Make Choices:
Workforce care is a first-line filter in selecting materials like soap, sanitizer, and paper towels. It too is a central component when setting expectations for the number of Hand Washes per Employee Hour, HW/EH.
- Our Handwash:
The key word is OUR. It is an agreed commitment that puts everyone on the same page. Our Handwash is based on the operation’s goals, its staff, its facilities, its menu, and the people served. It is a handwash motivated and trained to protect lives, complete with numeric evidence. (Data is coming shortly from the Operator Choice research project.)
- Our Clean Hand:
This is simply the outcome of the operator’s choice for Our Handwash. Today the operator makes these decisions without numeric evidence. They often compensate with an abundance of caution.
Operator Choice is the title of an active research project to provide operators with guidance for the length of hand scrub times by checking pathogen transfer after 5, 15, and 20 seconds. A norovirus-effective Alcohol-Based Hand Sanitizer, ABHS, will be tested alongside the other three variables, highlighting its possible use where running water is not readily available and without visible soiling.
Finally, ABHS will be tested in the presence of visible soil in a process related to the SaniTwice® protocol.