There are about a million different kinds of hand soap available on the market. Okay, that might be a bit of an exaggeration, but I say that with a point in mind. There are a lot of hand-cleaning options available, and they still might not be the best choice in preventing the spread of germs and bacteria in your restaurant. This might come as a bit of a surprise considering how often we write about handwashing as the top way to prevent the spread of germs and reduce cross-contamination. I still stand by that, but with asterisks
Bear with me here. No matter how often you wash your hands, you still touch things. There will always be a risk of spreading some germs. That’s why adding gloves to your hand hygiene routine is imperative. Here’s why: Think of how many things you touch every day: everything from your keyboard, to your face, hair, food, money and clothing – the list goes on and on. Chances are most of those touches are subconscious; you just do it without even realizing what you’re doing. If that happens in a restaurant setting, any germs transferred from your hands to the food could make customers sick.
Handwashing alone isn’t always enough to kill off all of the pathogens on your hands, including Staphylococcus, Norovirus and other fecal-based pathogens. That means your bare hands could still transmit those viruses onto food. That’s why the safest measure for any restaurant worker is to combine a proper handwashing routine with the use of disposable gloves. The goal is to keep the food as safe as possible. The combination of handwashing and gloves does just that by giving you an added layer of protection. The key is to change gloves often and wash your hands each time. So for example, you go from preparing raw meat for the grill to chopping up vegetables. When you’re done prepping the meat, take off those gloves and throw them out. Then, wash your hands, dry them and put on a fresh pair of gloves. It’s that easy to keep food safe and prevent foodborne illnesses.
According to the Centers for Disease Control, you should wash your hands for 20 seconds using soap and running water. Hand sanitizers can be used as an added step, not instead of proper handwashing.
And by the way, it’s important to make sure restaurants have gloves in enough sizes to fit all employees. Gloves that are too small can tear while gloves that are too large can fall off.