In time for Food Safety Education Month (September) and back-to-school, the USDA has issued back-to-school food safety tips focused on….hand washing. Why is Lesson #1 Hand Washing? According to Dr. Mindy Brashears, USDA under secretary for food safety, USDA research has found that consumers fail to properly wash their hands 97% of the time. “Washing hands is one of the most effective ways to prevent illness, including foodborne illness,” according to Dr. Brashears.
Be sure that everyone follows these steps:
- Wet hands with clean, warm running water, turn off the tap, and apply soap.
- Lather hands by rubbing them together with the soap. Be sure to lather the backs of hands, between your fingers, and under nails.
- Scrub hands for at least 20 seconds.
- Rinse hands well under clean, warm running water.
- Dry hands using a clean towel or paper towel
Hand washing is important before and after handling food, including when packing school lunch.
Lunch packing tips
- Keep cold things cold. If the lunch contains perishable food items like luncheon meats, eggs, cheese or yogurt, make sure to include a cold source, such as freezer packs or frozen juice boxes or water bottles.
- Keep hot things hot. If packing a hot lunch, like soup, chili or stew, use an insulated container to keep it hot. Fill the container with boiling water, let stand for a few minutes, empty, and then put in the piping hot food. Tell children to keep the insulated container closed until lunchtime to keep the food at 140°F or above.
And remind everyone, especially younger children, to wash their hands before and after lunchtime. Stay food safe, Barb