Hand Washing Compliance of Retail Deli Workers

Hand Washing Compliance of Retail Deli Workers
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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.

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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 hand washing.

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 one in times did they wash their hands when they were supposed to. Though it was 1 in 50 at the independent stores—only 2% compliance in hand washing. 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’re 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 talked about the potential to contract hepatitis from a virus in pork, but this time, at least, it wasn’t the pig’s 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.

Please consider volunteering to help out on the site.

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 hand washing.

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 one in times did they wash their hands when they were supposed to. Though it was 1 in 50 at the independent stores—only 2% compliance in hand washing. 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’re 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 talked about the potential to contract hepatitis from a virus in pork, but this time, at least, it wasn’t the pig’s 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.

Please consider volunteering to help out on the site.

Doctor's Note

The video to which I refer about hand washing 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. We can also contract pork tapeworms that burrow into our 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 Tongue Worm in Human Eye.

If you haven’t yet, you can subscribe to my videos for free by clicking here.

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