Many Aussies still not always washing hands after going to the toilet or before touching food – Global Handwashing Day 15 October 2022

The Food Safety Information Council released research that many Australians admit that they don’t always wash their hands after going to the toilet or before handling food.

Council Communication Director, Lydia Buchtmann, said good handwashing, using running water, soap and drying hands thoroughly is a basic public health message that people seem to be forgetting. The research found that 18% of Australians say they don’t always wash their hands after going to the toilet and 47% admit they don’t always wash before touching food.

‘Food Standards Australia New Zealand has recently released a report on the Annual Cost of Foodborne Disease in Australia by the Australian National University which found there are an estimated 4.67 million cases of food poisoning in Australia each year that result in 47,900 hospitalisations, 38 deaths and cost the economy $2.1 billion. Poor handwashing could be a major contribution to these figures,’ Ms Buchtmann said.

‘The research shows gender differences as men were less likely than women to always wash their hands after going to the toilet (80% of men versus 84% of women) and before touching food (52% of men versus 62% of women). Young people were less likely than older age groups to always wash their hands after going to the toilet (74% under 34 years versus 86% over 50 years) and before touching food (51% under 34 versus 58% over 50). Poor handwashing knowledge among young people is also a concern as they often become professional food handlers.

‘The Food Safety Information Council’s advice is to always wash and dry your hands:
• before handling, preparing and eating food
• after touching raw meat, fish, shell eggs or poultry
• after using the toilet, attending to children’s (or others’) toileting and changing nappies
• after blowing your nose
• after touching a pet
• after gardening

‘Follow these 4 simple tips for hand washing correctly:
1. Wet your hands and rub them together well to build up a good lather with soap for at least 20 seconds and don’t forget to wash between your fingers and under your nails. You might have to use a nail brush.
2. Rinse well under running water to remove the bugs from your hands.
3. Dry your hands thoroughly on a clean towel for at least 20 seconds. Touching surfaces with moist hands encourages bugs to spread from the surface to your hands.
4. If no running water is available use alcohol gel.

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