Food safety in the time of COVID-19: Hand washing

The coronavirus that causes COVID-19 is a respiratory virus. While the Centers for Disease Control does not consider COVID-19  to be a foodborne illness, there are actions that you can take to prevent foodborne illness that appear effective in fighting the coronavirus. Of the food safety steps in helping to mitigate coronavirus, hand washing appears to be the most important. Avoiding contact with others, social distancing, is very also important.



  1. Wet hands with warm running water and apply soap.
  2. Rub hands together to make a lather.
  3. Continue rubbing hands for at least 20 seconds.
  4. Rinse hands well under running water.
  5. Dry hands using a paper towel or a clean cloth.

Research has shown that washing hands with soap and water is the best defense against the flu and other contagious illnesses.

When should you wash your hands? There are many times throughout the day, including:

  • Before and after eating food or putting your hands to your mouth or face
  • Before, during and after preparing food for yourself and others
  • Before and after caring for someone who is sick
  • After coughing, sneezing or blowing your nose
  • After using the toilet or assisting others in the bathroom
  • After changing diapers or helping a child with toilet or personal hygiene
  • After touching garbage
  • After touching an animal or animal waste

Check out this video from the CDC that gives all the basics.

What about hand sanitizer? Hand sanitizer is a good back-up if running water is not available. Your hand sanitizer product should be at least 60% alcohol content.  Apply hand sanitizer to hands, and rub hands together for 20 seconds until hand surfaces (tops and palms) and fingers are dry. Remember to stay home if you have an illness or suspect that you might!  Stay food-safe and well! Barb