USDA Report: People Do THIS Wrong 97% of the Time

USDA Report: People Do THIS Wrong 97% of the Time
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Hand-washing isn’t rocket science, yet a recent study shows that people do it wrong about 97% of the time, which can lead to contamination and food poisoning. [1]

Researchers from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) found that most people fail to wash their hands and rub with soap for 20 seconds as recommended by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC). Washing for any less than that removes fewer germs.

In the study, “numerous” participants didn’t bother to dry their hands with a clean towel, either.

Carmen Rottenberg, acting deputy undersecretary for food safety at the USDA, commented:

“There were many, many times in the course of the study that people had the opportunity to wash their hands – nearly 1,200 opportunities.” [2]

The study involved 383 participants in 6 test kitchen facilities in the metro Raleigh-Durham area of North Carolina and rural Smithfield, North Carolina. [1]

About half the time, participants spread bacteria to spice containers in the process of preparing burgers. They managed to spread bacteria to refrigerator handles about 11% of the time.

Oh, and they didn’t use meat thermometers properly, either. Uh-oh! [2]

But what’s even worse is that most of the participants handled the raw turkey meat and then touched other stuff in the kitchen, including salad greens, without washing their hands properly.

Related: Listeria on the Rise – How to Fight Bad Bacteria in Your Food

Rottenberg said:

“In some cases the participants did not wash their hands at all, and in other cases they washed their hands and were ineffective.”

She added:

“You can’t see, smell, or feel bacteria. By simply washing your hands properly, you can protect your family and prevent that bacteria from contaminating your food and key areas in your kitchen.” [1]

The USDA took the extra step of extrapolating how many people would be sickened by food-borne bacteria if every household prepared turkey burgers and salad using their current ineffective habits. [2]

  • Almost 6 million households would transfer bacteria from raw poultry to salads.
  • Nearly 57 million could potentially contaminate spice or salt shakers.
  • 12 million would have fridge handles contaminated with bacteria.

The ‘Right’ Way to Wash Your Hands?

So, what is the right way to wash your hands? Here’s what the CDC has to say about it:

  1. Wet your hands with clean, running water.
  2. Turn off the tap and apply soap.
  3. Lather hands by rubbing them together. Get the backs of your hands, between your fingers, and under your fingernails.
  4. Scrub hands for at least 20 seconds – and sing the alphabet song or “Happy Birthday” twice while you do so.
  5. Rinse hands well under clean, running water.
  6. Dry hands with a clean towel or air-dry them.

The USDA says that beef, pork, lamb, and veal should be cooked to an internal temperature of 145°F. Ground beef should be cooked to an internal temperature of 160°F, and both whole and ground poultry to 165°F [2]


[1] CNN

[2] NBC News