Practice Personal Hygiene
Millions of people get sick each year from eating foods that were contaminated by the person who prepared the food. The single most important thing to prevent foodborne illnesses is hand washing. Wash your hands frequently, and especially always after using the toilet, changing a diaper, or petting an animal, and before handling food or eating food. Teach children to be careful about washing their hands.
The most important part of hand washing is that you use enough water to wash 'germs' off your hands. Use warm water and soap (antibacterial soap is not necessary on a regular basis). Lather your hands with soap, rub thoroughly so that the soap is all over your fingers and hands, then rinse them thoroughly, using enough water to remove all of the soap. A fingernail brush helps remove dirt and 'germs'. Dry your hands on a paper towel or a cloth towel that is washed frequently (every day is best).
Additional recommendations regarding personal hygiene:
- If you are sick with diarrhea, don't prepare food for others. An amazingly high number of infectious viruses or bacteria can be in fecal matter, and the infectious dose is low for many of these pathogens. It's easy to miss a few when you wash your hands and pass them along to someone else and infect them.
- Be sure to cover cuts and burns on your hands while you are preparing food. Infected cuts can be a source of Staph and other germs. Keeping disposable plastic gloves at home for emergencies is a good idea.
- Wash your hands after any contact with raw poultry, meat, or seafood.
- Work with clean hands, clean hair, clean fingernails, and wear clean clothing.
- Avoid using your hands to mix foods when clean utensils can be used.
- Keep your hands away from your mouth, nose, and hair.
- Cover your nose and mouth with disposable tissues when coughing or sneezing and wash your hands thoroughly afterward.
- Avoid using the same spoon more than once for tasting food while preparing, cooking, or serving.
- Wash your hands after smoking, because you touch your mouth while smoking.
If you follow these guidelines, you will avoid transferring pathogens from raw food, the environment, or your body onto ready-to-eat foods.
Practice Personal Hygiene
Pathogens for which personal hygiene is a primary control factor are those for which transmission is primarily via human or animal feces.
- Wash hands with soap and warm running water before handling food, especially after using the toilet, changing a baby's soiled diaper, or after touching animals.
- If you are ill with diarrhea, only prepare food for yourself but not others.
- Properly bandage and glove cuts and burns on hands before handling food.