Global Handwashing Day, takes place on October 15, to encourage better hand hygiene practises in order to reduce the spread of infectious diseases. Hands provide a perfect breeding ground for a wide range of bacteria and viruses, including swine flu (H1N1), MRSA, Salmonella, Norovirus and E. coli.
Research released today by Initial Hygiene suggests that parents may be endangering their children’s health by taking a ‘laissez-faire’ approach to hand hygiene. A survey of primary school children and their parents has shown kids lag behind their parents when it comes to handwashing, with over 40% of youngsters saying that they don’t always wash their hands with soap after using the toilet, and almost three quarters admitting they didn’t wash before every meal. A significant 20% of children’s hands were found to have heavy levels of bacteria.
Even more worrying was that 90% of parents questioned said that they believed their children could be too hygienic and that ‘a bit of dirt might be good for them’. Just over two thirds of the children surveyed said that their parents played the biggest role in influencing their handwashing habits, suggesting that mums’ and dads’ lax attitude towards hand hygiene is the reason behind their kids’ poor habits.
But diseases such as E.coli and Salmonellosis are not just confined to handwashing. They can be spread by pests such as rats, mice and cockroaches. In Europe the Regulation (EC) 852/2004 on the hygiene of foodstuffs states that businesses must ensure that the layout, design, construction and size of food premises shall permit good food hygiene practices, including protection against cross contamination between and during operations by external sources of contamination such as pests. You can check how clean your kitchen is through the Scores on the Doors food hygiene rating system.