Apparently only 3% of us know how to wash our hands properly

A study conducted recently by the US Department of Agriculture found that consumers don’t wash their hands correctly 97 percent of the time

About half of the time, participants spread bacteria to spice containers while preparing hamburgers, and they spread bacteria to refrigerator handles 11 percent of the time. It found that 97 percent of people weren't following the necessary steps to wash their hands.

So what's the right way to wash hands?

A new study published Thursday found that the majority of citizens in the United States don't clean their hands as they should before eating or cooking. "By simply washing your hands properly, you can protect your family and prevent that bacteria from contaminating your food and key areas in your kitchen", acting deputy Undersecretary for Food Safety at the USDA, Carmen Rottenberg, stated.

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The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that 48 million Americans are sickened with foodborne illnesses each year, resulting in roughly 128,000 hospitalizations and 3,000 deaths. At least 128,000 people are hospitalized - and 3,000 die - from foodborne illnesses in the US annually. The study was performed by the FSIS, in partnership with experts from RTI International and North Carolina State University. Young children, the elderly and people with weakened immune systems are at greatest risk. The USDA stressed that people use a food thermometer and properly cook their meat to its recommended safe internal temperatures. The researchers found that one mistake most people make is not washing with soap and water for the required 20 seconds. Numerous participants did not even use a clean towel to dry their hands.

Wet your hands with clean, running water (warm or cold), turn off the tap, and apply soap.

But because hand washing is often done hastily, or not at all, it's little surprise that food poisoning is common in the U.S. Avoid focusing only on your palms by making sure to lather behind your hands, between your fingers, and under your nails. A proper wash of visibly dirty hands takes about as long as singing "Happy Birthday" twice. The agency said people should wash for a full 20 seconds, followed by drying them using a clean and dry towel. It's also important to dry hands afterward with a clean towel, the agency says. At the annual meeting of the American Society for Microbiology last month, researchers reported that kitchen towels are common conveyers of bacteria, including potentially risky ones such as staphylococcus (also known as "staph") and E. coli.


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