Paper Authors and Title
Leo O’Connor (Technological University Dublin), Ciara Walsh, Uma Tiwari, “An Investigation into Hand Hygiene Practices Amongst Food Handlers Working in Ireland”
Current state of hand practice, disposable gloves, formal training, and establishment of a food safety culture were examined (via survey) among (n=210) food handlers working in Ireland’s food sector. Parameters such as job role, years worked, job type, food safety training, and nature of the establishment were considered. Notably, 25% of food handlers claimed not to have received formal food safety training (67% of part-time food handlers were not trained in food hygiene). Structural prerequisites in food rooms were examined, pursuant to Regulation (EC) No. 852/2004. It was reported by 19% of food handlers that their workplace did not have a designated hand basin. Similarly, 23% had no instantaneous supply of warm water. Moreover, it was reported that 14% of participants practiced non-compliant hand wash technique. Heavy dependence on disposable glove use was highlighted, with 77% reporting to apply disposable gloves whilst handling open food products (notably, 56% claimed not to be trained in their use).
Additionally, an independent compliance audit was conducted in (n=15) food service establishments, examining structural handwash facilities. Hand practice among 35 individuals (confirmed as specifically in direct contact with food) was examined using Glo germ. It was found that 97% (p<0.05) of participants failed to remove glowing contamination. A 47% decrease in average handwash duration was found between self-reported practice via survey (34 sec) versus (18 sec) observed during the audit.
The study establishes notable gaps in basic hand hygiene practice, formal training, and food safety culture in small/medium sized food premises in Ireland. The results highlight the value of good hand hygiene in preventing foodborne illness, and elucidates areas for improvements to ensure safe, legal food products are produced.