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Handwashing for Life


The Handwashing Factor In Avoiding Chipotle-like Brand Damage

Tue, 20 Feb 2018 19:51:23 +0000

In a recent QSR® article, Lisa van Kesteren, SeeLevel HX Founder/CEO, unintentionally gave the industry a perfect four-point outline for protecting restaurant brands with verified-handwashing technology. The CDC reminds us that "Handwashing is the single-most important means of preventing the spread of infection” yet compliance is not measured in today's restaurant world. This low cost brand protection opportunity potentially lowers risk, adds to operational excellence and contributes in a measured way to a culture of customer care. 1. When it comes to operational excellence, don’t cut back—double down Set handwashing standards based on risk and convert handwashing from a random act to a controllable process by investing in newly available tracking and reporting technology. 2. What you don’t measure … won’t change Handwashing rates are between low and very low, commonly around 30% of what is considered a safe level for frequency. This research-supported knowledge is held within Quality Assurance departments but without regular measurement, there are no reports to engage Operations and this risk continues to escape C-Suite scrutiny. Effective programs of Continuous Improvement and HACCP demand measurement. The carrot is mightier than the stick Data lights a path to positive reinforcement and gamification, proactively engaging the staff. It creates a baseline for behavior change, unit/store comparisons, rewards and ultimately helps align handwashing with a customer focused food safety culture. 4. Actionable insights only work when action is actually taken Handwashing’s corrective actions require ownership and leadership to move from a conceptual concern to a working solution. It must be very clear as to who owns the issue. Quality Assurance’s knowledge of the science is important and helpful but sustainable corrective action will not be taken until it is a declared priority of Operations, complete with a supporting budget and timetable. [...]

Simple Flu Avoidance Technique

Fri, 16 Feb 2018 16:29:41 +0000

Raise hand sanitizer effectiveness when away from home

SaniTwice® is a simple hand cleansing process to be taught to all children, pregnant women and other immune compromised people for their lives away from home - without ready access to running water. SaniTwice potentiates their hand sanitizer to be “...equivalent or superior to hand washing with soap and water…” according to independent research reported in the Journal of Food Protection.

For more information visit: and for a demonstration, see:

FDA’s Model Food Code Is Challenged By Science

Tue, 13 Feb 2018 18:05:47 +0000

Bureaucracy buries addition to public health A handwashing-without-water protocol has perplexed the FDA and its Conference for Food Protection (CFP) for 12 years, unable to resolve it at six successive biennial sessions. This recurring issue, Hand Cleanse-Sanitize Protocol Not Requiring Running Water, will again be presented at the 2018 CFP in Richmond Virginia, April 16-20. The two-step process now serves as a consideration for farm use as part of FSMA’s Produce Rule and has two more years of successful use by the Clark County School District (Las Vegas) when protecting students during periods of water-outages when serving food. These effective applications were based on science rather than Food Code approval. Handwashing issues and any hope of a CFP Hand Hygiene Committee were taken off the table at Conference For Food Protection 2016 in Boise Idaho as the regulatory community decided that a definition of a handwash could not be reached thus any proposed alternative protocol innovations could not be measured, considered or approved. Research for two years has been dealt a blow. The official CFP Hand Hygiene Committee was dissolved and a motion to renew it was rejected as neither the FDA nor CDC currently could say what a handwash is or does. Reasons to reject this Hand Cleanse-Sanitize Protocol Not Requiring Running Water have ranged from lack of research and use-history to the lack of CDER approval. Some regulators mistakingly interpreted this as an issue of supporting a commercial product when the process was given a name of SaniTwice®  and trademarked by Handwashing For Life. This was done to define, normalize and control the process for training, much like the IAFP did when trademarking their food safety icons, free for everyone to use. The FDA, CDC and CFP Council III have ignored the fact that SaniTwice is just a process and works for all approved hand sanitizers (considered hand antiseptics by regulatory). The reality appears to be a deep FDA or CDC bias in foodservice against these hand sanitizers while they have been credited with saving untold lives in healthcare for decades. The alleged bias ends up restricting the use of SaniTwice at outdoor events and emergency situations, even at Petting Zoos, although there are unofficial accounts of it being deployed by CDC teams in Haiti and in other disaster relief efforts. For a more detailed history of this chronic issue, visit: For a simple demonstration visit: [...]

Impress Guests with Staff’s Restroom Handwashing

Wed, 17 Jan 2018 20:55:38 +0000

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Crushed Red restaurants have identified a new customer relations builder in their handwash monitoring program.

The public is quite surprised and impressed when a staff member steps to the restroom hand sink and speaks their name into a voice-recognized handwash system. Their handwash is recorded, assuring this cleanliness policy is met throughout the day. “Wow. This is so much better than the usual sign on the mirror”, comments a customer.

Staff like it as well as they get credit for their demonstration of professionalism without filling in an annoying paper log.

Crushed Red has moved handwashing from an operational cost to an element of their customer loyalty program.

The CDC, FDA and local health departments all join in the praises of this program that directly includes restrooms, the genesis of so many outbreaks including norovirus, the nation’s overwhelming outbreak leader.

Handwash Compliance: Foodservice’s “Ugly Baby”

Fri, 05 Jan 2018 18:46:47 +0000

Foodservice operators in most cases are rightfully proud of their customer care. After all, they likely see their operation as a finely tuned network of policies and procedures focused on their customers. It is a human behavior to love what we create. This fosters further operational enthusiasm but can dangerously conceal important realities and diminish objectivity. This creates a condition summarized as the “ugly baby” barrier to accepting reality.

C-suites are disconnected from the truth that their handwashing is running nearer 30% compliance rather than the 90% - 100% that is considered safe and expected. To those Quality Assurance professionals who do know their handwashing is the operation’s “ugly baby", they choose to overlook it because of executive complacency and the priorities of Operations. Their experience is evidence of chronic C-suite inaction.

Meanwhile, rather than dealing with the agreed and documented #1 way to reduce outbreaks, C-suites invest in high-tech temperature control equipment or a better dish machine. They’d rather not look at their “ugly baby” while it should be their #1 priority, based on risk reduction.

The collective costs of restaurant outbreaks are high but not analyzed by separate causes, only by composite “contributing factors”. No portion of the dollar impact is attributed to poor handwashing compliance as that looks like everything is rosy based on passing health department audits and it is rarely a topic in management meetings. The “ugly baby” parallel was explained to me by a person who lost his spouse to an infection acquired during her hospital stay. He feels that this is a factor in most all restaurants as well as in healthcare kitchens. “No one wants to look at it.”

It is time to face the truth and admit that their handwashing is one of their creations that has morphed into "ugly baby” status. It is an ideal time to take a deep dive into this #1 opportunity to lower operator risk by deploying electronic performance monitoring systems that provide data-driven handwash motivation. The best are those capable of motivating staff in those busy moments so easy to forget. The HandsOn System gives operators a simple sequence of steps to expose, face and resolve Foodservice’s handwashing shortcomings in a sustainable way.

Handwashing for Life Olympics: Battle at Waterloo

Thu, 07 Dec 2017 16:50:28 +0000

Originally published in the 11-20-17 edition of Food Safety News. Republished with permission. Pathogens met their Waterloo as more than 400 culinary professionals staged a two day pursuit of the latest advances in nutrition and food safety. The annual campaign is sponsored by Martin Brothers, a regional distributor focused on the culinary needs of hospitals and nursing homes. The location was the Waterloo Convention Center, celebrating the famous five Sullivan Brother patriots who fought together and unfortunately died together in WWII. The two-day event opened Nov. 15 with an afternoon of competition to determine the best-of-the-best culinary handwashers. The Handwashing for Life Olympics continued the spirit of war, a war on healthcare acquired infections, the dreaded HAIs. Contestants pledged to do their part by stepping up their handwashing, the single greatest contributing factor to the 380,000 annual deaths attributed to infections acquired in long-term care residences across the United States. Participants learned by active engagement. The goal was to deliver the knowhow and support materials to conduct this unique behavior-changing training program back at their base facilities. The instructional design of the program is based on the power of personalized and visualized learning. Contestants discover for themselves that effective handwashing is a skill and must not be trivialized at any organizational level. Many were surprised to discover that their handwashing was less than perfect and in a few cases, far less. They learned how calloused skin is hard to clean and how important it is to keep hands hydrated. Scoring of the handwashing skills followed the Handwashing for Life ProGrade protocol. Brevis simulated germ UV-lotion is applied and washed off. Missed spots get a 1 point deduction and missed areas cost contestants 5 points. A perfect score of 100 was achieved by one person, Mark O’Connell, who is culinary services coordinator at Evergreen Senior Living in Chillicothe, IL. Administrators were reminded of their role of leadership in the pursuit of enhanced handwashing as they rolled up their sleeves and entered the competition. There was a common concern expressed in the chitchat surrounding the event. Implementing responses to the constant flow of new regulations is a “major competitor” to hand-washing training. Multi-topic training sessions and motivational presentations rounded out an the agenda. Roxanne Hassman, a Martin Brothers category manager, summed up the event: “Our culinary clients return every year hungry to learn and appreciate the environment created by our staff, a staff that truly cares and it shows.” [...]

Handwashing: Frequency vs. Quality

Mon, 04 Dec 2017 22:00:46 +0000

Collaborative handwashing assessment Sixty-two healthcare culinary professionals volunteered to share their opinion of handwashing at their establishment, a kitchen in either a hospital or nursing home in the Midwest. The objective of the qualitative research was to highlight the two primary dimensions of handwashing, the quality of the outcome and the handwash frequency. Each requires a very different solution. This exercise serves to raise awareness when assessing the risk of outbreaks and provides guidance for improving both the quality and frequency, using the standards of continuous improvement. Each participant was asked to align a dot on a chart representing the quality of the wash - the “percentage of safe” reached on average by all the kitchen staff. They were then asked to affix their dot to the chart where the quality line intersects their estimate of handwash frequency – the “percentage of safe” reached on average again by the total kitchen staff. Results displayed on the chart revealed first that handwashing was well below a safe level in both quality and frequency. Secondly, the quality fared better than the frequency. There is not even one dot in the quadrant representing high frequency and low quality. The patients and residents being served at the facilities identified in the lower left quadrant are clearly at risk. Their staffs are grossly failing on both measures. Even those served in the upper right are huddled far from safe. The far upper right, where the 10s meet, are the levels the participants considered safe. The nearly blank lower right quadrant suggests that those doing well on frequency also are doing quite well on quality. The upper left shows many of the people low on frequency are high on quality. "They don’t wash often but when they do, they are thorough” reported one of the participants in a moment of reflection. The call for standards The most impassioned comments came along with the ratings in low quality-low frequency area. Of those standing around the open voting, there was a feeling that these 10 people were the most honest. There was one pair of voters who approached the chart and after the senior of the two documented her view, the junior person returned her dot without voting. Resolving these issues starts with setting agreed standards. The Handwashing For Life’s ProGrade™ protocol is one simple but effective alternative for setting the quality expectation: A frequency standard is next but without a tracking system to verify, this is generally an ineffective exercise. Verification is a game changer when wanting to improve on the frequency dimension: Electronic handwash monitoring can be a major help in kitchens where observational protocols are proving ineffective. Handwashing For Life® proposes operators use this simple qualitative instrument in taking the pulse of their handwashing. The exercise increases the discussion, raises awareness of issues, guides training and shines a light on possible risk-based solutions. It is another helpful tool to initiate collaborative solutions. [Note: When this same exercise is conducted in non-healthcare foodservice, mainly restaurants, the clustering now seen in the upper right moves to the upper corner of the lower left. Might this reflect higher staff turnover in non-healthcare foodservice and/or might there be a higher level of concern and commitment due to the immune compromised residents and patients? Or is this too much of a stretch of participants’ approximations to draw such conclusions?]  File Attachment:  AttachmentSize ServeReady Frequency vs. Quality3.96 MB [...]

Thanksgiving’s Top 10 Tips For Healthy Hands & Wellness

Sat, 18 Nov 2017 14:00:00 +0000

Tags: Hand HygieneFood-borne illness Thanksgiving, the eater's favorite holiday. Ours always starts on Wednesday with a little pre-prep and gathering last minute supplies. As joyous the occasion, it’s also a special feast day for bacteria and virus, particularly for salmonella and norovirus – the poster children for holiday pain. Staying well can make the difference between a memory of magic or misery. Good hand hygiene can do more for protecting holiday health than an over-cooked Turkey.  Salmonella celebrates this one more than most. First with the turkey and then joined by the encampment of the rest of their family in the shell eggs. It’s easy to forget the family-unfriendly norovirus, the common cold and the flu. They too love the holidays. People are stressed and their army of defenses is weakened. Enter Jimmy with the runny nose and Jamie with the grumbling stomach. They can’t stay home without a babysitter. Everyone wants to see them. Their situation is a lot like an ocean cruise. “We’re committed. We are going!” And going and going until the ship is returned to port. Consider fortifying your defenses during this 5 day siege to follow the food and avoid the foodborne. On Wednesday: 10. Retire the reusable kitchen hand towels in favor of single-use paper. Convenient pop-up boxes are available at Office Depot and Staples.9. Get an accurate food thermometer. Check for accuracy with boiling water or inserting in ice water. Use it for heating, cooling and reheating.8. Train the resident family to wash their hands first thing on returning home.  They were out shopping for pasteurized eggs as we enforce a holiday ban on shell eggs other than pasteurized.7. Agree the rewards and punishments for complying with the temporary heightened standards. No turkey for anyone missing a handwash after using the bathroom. Extra handwashes earn extra servings or a glass of port. Thursday 6. Welcome guests with a hug or a fist bump.5. Introduce guests to your Holiday Wellness Habit of periodic use of Purell - especially if anyone has a cold or tells you how sick they were yesterday. Cruise liner Rules In Effect!4. Don't overcook the turkey. 160 - 165 F keeps the white meat moist. 170F is best for the dark meat. At 180F, everything is ruined. Remember to let stand for 5-10 minutes as the temperature will rise at least 5 degrees F. It’s part of the cooking process. Friday/Saturday/Sunday 3. Maintain the rhythm of wellness while reheating leftovers.2. Eat or freeze all the leftovers rather than sending granny home with a special assortment of salmonella sandwiches.1. Tighten the loosened belt if you can! Goodbye hugs all around. [...]

Soap Formulated For Frequent User

Wed, 20 Sep 2017 20:14:36 +0000

Chemical irritants removed

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Fast-paced foodservice work results in frequent hand contamination. Frequent handwashing is a must but most hand soaps are formulated for few handwashes per shift with a focus on quick foaming and grease cutting. Both criteria can result in damaged skin which is then even harder to clean.

Purell Healthy Soap was formulated as a corrective-action handwash for the frequent washer - without hazardous preservatives, antibacterials, parabens, phthalates, fragrance and dye. It out cleans regular soap by 30% but delivers a hypoallergenic standard for the skin-component of one’s healthy immune system.

The Mark Twain Solution to Embarrassingly Low Handwashing Rates

Wed, 06 Sep 2017 14:49:28 +0000

Data-driven continuous improvement for restaurants and hospitals Hospitals have a great standard for handwashing as does FSMA. It’s Continuous Improvement. Mark Twain agrees, noting that “Continuous improvement is better than delayed perfection.” Healthcare Kitchens & The Joint Commission The Joint Commission, healthcare’s performance auditors, encourages a path of measured progress but results are often discouraging because handwash monitoring is limited to observation and no one can afford the luxury of enough observations to make the process mathematically significant. JCAHO does offer a great system to maximize the observational method known as The Targeted Solutions Tool®. Visual observation by caregivers has its advantages and its significance is multiplied when complimented with electronic monitoring. Observation-only facilities have drifted into a dangerous circumstance by self-reporting a 90% compliance level while the reality is often less than 30%. Electronic handwash monitoring systems expose the fiction perpetuated by observation-only operations.The FDA Handwashing Standard The FDA’s recommended standard for handwashing is in their Model Food Code and is not based on Continuous Improvement but rather a series of nine situations calling for a handwash with soap and water (Food Code 2-301.14 When to Wash). This presents a major hurdle for compliance as it is neither based on risk nor measured in any way. There is no weighting of the nine situations. Washing after adjusting your glasses is equivalent to after using toilet facilities. The Model Food Code's approach is more geared to perfection but their army of local health inspectors end up awarding passing grades to restaurants and healthcare kitchens where handwashing is commonly far less than the existing policies and guidelines. It is common to find handwashing about 30% of the operator's desired goal. The shortfall is so massive, widespread and enduring that a switch to reality is challenging but would clearly be a wise move for public health. This would open the gate to Continuous Improvement. Here Comes FSMA’s Continuous Improvement Handwashing FSMA is all about prevention. Continuous Improvement is a natural fit. What was previously considered advice becomes the law. Its view of handwashing represents a cultural shift for operators and their coaches, the cadre of health inspectors.  FSMA’s preventive controls, known by the acronym HARPC (Hazard Analysis and Risk-based Preventive Controls), manufacturers and processors must create and maintain a thorough hygiene discipline throughout their facilities. The new law says “management of covered facilities must ensure that all employees who manufacture, process, pack or hold food have the necessary education, training, and/or experience and ensure they receive training in the principles of food hygiene, food safety, and employee health and hygiene.”  This training includes having hand washing records available for FDA inspection. FSMA drives a Continuous Improvement culture and is in the best interest of the operator’s goals of public health and brand protection. Continuous Improvement demands data and advanced electronic systems are now available. “Continuous improvement is better than delayed perfection." - Mark Twain  [...]