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The Global Handwashing Partnership

Handwashing is not optional for restaurant workers: It is essential for public health

February 4, 2015

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Feb. 4, 2015. Handwashing with soap is a cornerstone of public health and disease prevention. Each year in the United States there are approximately 48 million cases of food-borne illness, over half of which are associated with restaurants. To fight the spread of food-borne illness it is critical that restaurant workers and those who prepare our food practice good handwashing with soap behaviors at critical times.

A single gram of feces can contain 10 million viruses and 1 million bacteria which can cause illness when transferred from contaminated hands as food is prepared, served, and consumed. That is why handwashing with soap is particularly important after using the bathroom, and we know that signage reminding people to wash their hands is effective.

According to Dr. Layla McCay, Secretariat Director for the Global Public-Private Partnership for Handwashing, “Handwashing with soap can protect us from a wide range of illnesses by preventing the spread of germs. When people fail to wash their hands they are not only putting themselves at risk of illness, but they are risking spreading germs to others. It is for this reason that those preparing food—whether at home or in a restaurant—must wash their hands properly before any contact with food. This behavior isn’t optional; it is an essential element of food safety.”

To wash hands properly one should cover wet hands with soap and scrub all hand surfaces for twenty seconds, paying particular attention to between the fingers and underneath the fingernails. Next, hands should be rinsed thoroughly and dried. The critical times for handwashing are after using the bathroom or changing a diaper; before and after contact with food; and after coughing or sneezing.

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About the Global Public Public-Private Partnership for Handwashing
The Global Public-Private Partnership is a coalition of international stakeholders that aims to give families, schools, and communities in developing countries the power to prevent diarrhea and respiratory infections by supporting the universal promotion and practice of proper handwashing with soap at critical times.

For more information, or to set up an interview with a hygiene expert, contact the Global Public-Private Partnership at +1 202-884-8398 or


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