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Handwashing Compliance of Retail Deli Workers

How often do retail deli workers wash their hands at both independent and chain stores? This is important given the potential for life-threatening blood-borne viruses such as hepatitis C.

June 11, 2012 |
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Transcript

In one of my videos a few years ago I talked about a study that examined the food safety practices of restaurant workers in several fast food chains in the Midwest, finding an astounding zero percent compliance with federal food code guidelines for handwashing.
Well a follow-up study was recently published on the food safety practices in retail deli departments. They looked at both independent and chain stores. How do you think they did overall? Did they wash their hands 10% of the times they were supposed to? 50% of the time? For example did they wash their hands “After touching bare body parts” before they touched the meat?
    And the answer is they washed their hands 11% of the time—better than the cynic in me expected, but still only about 1 in 10. Though it was 1 in 50 at the independent stores—only 2% compliance—the chain stores actually did better.
    Why is this important? Consider this case report of “Occupational transmission of hepatitis C virus resulting from use of the same supermarket meat slicer.” Two women worked in the same deli department, one hep C positive, something usually only transmitted by sharing dirty needles —unless you are using a common ham cutting machine, with frequent bleeding hand injuries. And then one hep C positive woman can become two.
     In previous years I’ve talk about the potential to contract hepatitis from a virus in pork, but this time at least, it wasn’t the pigs fault.

To see any graphs, charts, graphics, images, and quotes to which Dr. Greger may be referring watch the above video. This is just an approximation of the audio contributed by Serena

To help out on the site please email volunteer@nutritionfacts.org

Dr. Michael Greger

Doctor's Note

The video to which I refer about handwashing in fast food chains is Restaurant Worker Hand Washing. For more on the hepatitis virus people can get from pork, see Hepatitis E Virus in Pork. One can also contract pork tapeworms that burrow into the brain from those who handle our food—see Avoiding Epilepsy Through Diet (if you dare! :). If that gets you squeamish you're going to want to skip the video I have queued up in two days: "Tongue Worm in Human Eye". There are hundreds of worm-less videos, though, on more than a thousand topics.

  • Michael Greger M.D.

    The video to which I refer about handwashing in fast food chains is Restaurant Worker Hand Washing. For more on the hepatitis virus people can get from pork, see Hepatitis E Virus in Pork.  One can also contract pork tapeworms that burrow into the brain from those who handle our food—see Avoiding Epilepsy Through Diet (if you dare! :). And if that gets you squeamish you’re going to want to skip the video I have queued up in two days: “Tongue Worm in Human Eye”. There’s hundreds of wormless videos, though, on more than a thousand topics.

    • HemoDynamic, M.D.

      The most famous tale of Handwashing:

      from Shakespears MacBeth:  The Doctor and Gentlewoman overwatching Lady MacBeth after she killed her husband:

      Doctor:  What is it she does now? Look how she rubs her hands.

      Gentlewoman:  It is an accustom’d action with her, to seem thuswashing her hands. I have known her continue in this a quarter ofan hour.

      Lady Macbeth:  Yet here’s a spot.

      Doctor:  Hark, she speaks. I will set down what comes from her, tosatisfy my remembrance the more strongly.

      Lady Macbeth:  Out, damn’d spot! out, I say!—One; two: why, then’tis time to do’t.—Hell is murky.—Fie, my lord, fie, a soldier, andafeard? What need we fear who knows it, when none can call ourpow’r to accompt?—Yet who would have thought the old man tohave had so much blood in him?

      Maybe a scholarly lesson on MacBeth should be expounded upon those whom work in the food and person handling industries.

    • Stefan Juhl M.D.

      It was a meat slicer – hence blame the pigs !  :-)

  • HemoDynamic, M.D.

    I am reposting this here to link to the excellent blog Dr. Greger wrote yesterday.  It may seem irrelevant but it’s not!  Whether it’s Hep C or E. Coli contamination of our food supply is irreprehensible and abhorrent.
    http://nutritionfacts.org/blog/2012/06/09/e-coli-o145-ban-opposed-by-meat-industry/#disqus_thread

    Finally! Maybe we are getting somewhere in Congress.

    But the Head still doesn’t know what the body is doing in our Federal Government.
    Why do WE/they have the prestigious Institutes of Medicine (IOM) showing us repeatedly what animal products (processed and unprocessed) do to our bodies (hence, their recent “Weight of the Nation” series and their NHANES studies as well as numerous other published materials) yet THEY/we spend $16 Billion dollars annually for meat and dairy subsidies?

    Stop the insanity already!!

    Think Globally, act Locally, GO Vegan!!!! Vote at your local market. If we all stop buying these products the markets will soon, no longer carry them; because, for the markets too, it is all about money!

    • Stefan Juhl M.D.

      The politicians talk a lot about global warming, but seems to ignore the fact that animal production is a bigger contributor (to my knowledge) than burning fossil fuel. The best thing for humans (eating plantbased), is best for the fight aganist global warming, deforestation, pollution af water, fighting hunger etc. So how can it be difficult to stop subsiding meat and dairy? GO Vegan !!

      • HemoDynamic, M.D.

        It’s difficult because of the Meat and Dairy lobbiest “padding the pockets” (with Elephant dollars, gargantuan gift’s and virtuous votes) of the congress people and senators.  It is my hope that those elected officials will see the plight of fellow Americans and stand up for what is for the betterment of our society not just the infintesimally small percentage that are Big Meat, Dairy and Pharma!

        Oh, and BTW without plants all those companies would be defunct because plants are the backbone of their industries too!  However, they are trying to change that as well by feeding the dead animals to their animals.  Just ask the Mad Cow and the Cysticercotic Pig.
        Go Plants!  Go Vegan!