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Nailbrush: Food Safety's Friend or Foe?

Jim Mann's picture

Fecal-hand-oral is the most frequent pathway for the #1 cause of foodborne illness - norovirus. We also know that the nail area is frequently missed when handwashing. The use of a nailbrush dramatically enhances contaminant removal during handwashing.

One common execution in the well-intending professional kitchen is to tether a nailbrush and store it in a red pail of sanitizer solution. This process meets all the scientific standards except one, psychology. Would-be users, even visiting health inspectors, are reluctant to manually fish out the brush from its unknown reservoir of rendered biomass.

An alternate nailbrush execution utilizes a solid filament fused bristle brush which can be recycled after each use or shift in the dish machine, Poer Soak or three compartment sink.


  1. colin k. thacker
    2004-10-25 @ 12:10:48 pm
    I am curious as to the actual contamination on brushes that are used and left on the sink for future uses. Is this better than no brush or worse? I concur with recycling brushes in the dishwasher but realize in a normal kitchen that they would rarely be returned to the sink.
  2. Kyle Clemens
    2004-10-25 @ 4:10:38 pm
    I still have a problem with common brushes and don't believe the industry is going to shell out the bucks for individual brushes. Good, thorough handwashing and the use of barriers for ready-to eat-foods are a better solution.
  3. Paul Allwood
    2004-11-1 @ 12:11:41 pm
    The benefits of fingernail brush use by food workers is still a matter of conjecture. Much of the questions about nailbrush use are related to potential contamination during storage. Incidentally, in two recent surveys of restaurants in Minnesota, the failure to use the nailbrush was the most common handwashing deficiency. FDA has talked about doing a microbial survey of used brushes in restaurants to determine contaminant loads and the potential for the transfer of contamination from brush to hand. That type of study might shed light on the storage issue, but we still have to figure out how to get people to use them. re-contaminating hands

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