Tag Archives: food-borne illnesses

Guess who’s coming to dinner? Salmonella and other food-borne illnesses if Senator Tillis has anything to say about it.

Handwashing is required by restaurant workers

Is requiring food workers to wash their hands after using the bathroom an onerous government intrusion? Senator Thom Tillis of North Carollina thinks so.

During a recent appearance at the Bipartisan Policy Center, Senator Tillis stated that businesses are bogged down by government regulations, so he thinks restaurants should be able to opt-out of the requirement that employees wash their hands after using the restroom—as long as they let customers know.

Tillis told the story of a time a woman asked him if hand washing wasn’t the sort of regulation that needed to be on the books. With his right hand raised for emphasis, Tillis concluded that in his example most businesses who posted signs telling customers their food workers didn’t have to wash their hands would likely go out of business. Tillis’s example takes pressure off businesses to provide safe food, and forces consumers to judge every meal’s likelihood of making them violently ill. Ah, the free market!

In case you didn’t know, the FDA requires handwashing and here’s why: “Proper handwashing reduces the spread of fecal-oral pathogens from the hands of a food employee to foods.” Gross! Recently, a restaurant in Mercer County, New Jersey was cited for handwashing violations—just a month before a worker tested positive for hepatitis A. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says hepatitis A is spread when an infected person doesn’t wash his or her hands after going to the bathroom and touches other objects or food.

In 2013, an All American Grill in Tillis’s home state gave a hundred people salmonella. The health department identified several health violations that could have contributed to food cross-contamination, including the fact that the hand washing sink was out of paper towels and soap, and didn’t have sufficiently hot water, all factors that “could serve as a deterrent to hand washing or render it ineffective,” according to the department. In that situation that market didn’t take care of the safety risks—100 ill guests and employees did.

Tillis was the butt of a lot of jokes after his comments went public. Jon Stewart even did this segment “Mr. Unclean,” on The Daily Show. Says Stewart, “You do realize that that’s a regulation too, right? … That’s not getting rid of a regulation, that just makes you an inconsistent ideologue with a light fecal dusting in your latte.”

Telling people to wash their hands never gets old around here. If workers are serving food and not washing their hands, they’re also serving up germs and sickness. So if free-market ideology means we can’t go out to eat without worrying about getting sick we’ll just stay home for dinner.

Win the war on food-borne bugs in 20 seconds

Call Homeland Security—there’s an invasion on restaurants and kitchens everywhere. We’re talking about bugs. Bacteria, viruses, fungi, parasites…the ones you savor during mealtime then pay a big price for later. These microorganisms would just love to ruin your day with a good case of accelerated peristalsis, forward or reverse (you know it as vomit, upchuck, puke and the Aztec two-step, Montezuma’s revenge, or the Greek’s own diarrhea). Don’t let them win. Declare war on these bugs.

The culprits have many names, so we’ll just refer to them collectively as food-borne illnesses. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that each year roughly one in six Americans (or 48 million people) get sick, 128,000 are hospitalized, and 3,000 die of food-borne illnesses each year. While outbreaks of this and that get a lot of attention and spur concerns over food processing and food imports, the reality is that as much as 70 percent of food poisoning cases originate in the kitchen.

That’s right—people, not products, are the main cause of food-borne illnesses—and they can be avoided by following some basic principles of food safety. That’s where we come in. The CDC says the first line of defense to protect against food-borne illness is to wash your hands the correct way: 20 seconds with soap and running water. And be sure to scrub the backs of your hands, between your fingers, and under your nails. Most people don’t wash their hands right but winning this war means that changes.

We’re a longtime partner with the Handwashing for Life® to advocate and teach correct hand washing techniques. You can buy a DVD that demonstrates the why, when and how of good handwashing practice to motivate your employees and more. Of course you can use our products to check that you’ve washed correctly, too. Ready to fight the invasion of food-borne bugs? Reach for the soap and water and leave the anti-diarrheal medication on the shelf.