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Conventional Handwashing. Unconventional Penalties

Data challenges the status quo

Years of unchecked failures in handwashing compliance have quietly morphed into an unwritten operational culture within many foodservice organizations. The truth is now exposed as risks rise and the costs of electronic monitoring fall. Operators are checking their assumptions by installing the new electronic hand hygiene monitoring technologies. Data documents the reality of the gap between the operation’s Mission Statement and the culture identified by the handwashing reality.

The Flywheel of Conventional Hand-washing


Editor’s note: This is the second in a series of three guest opinion columns by Jim Mann in recognition of September as National Food Safety Month.

Hand-wash tracking technologies have arrived on the restaurant scene, exposing the stark reality of compliance and noncompliance. The new tools are being ignored by many, who are serving as guardians of the status quo based on conventional thinking.

While the impact of an outbreak is high, the probability is low, proven by our recent history. And we have solid PR and legal help lined up if we suddenly need them.

An electronic hand hygiene monitoring (EHHM) solution, as seen in the Atrio Restaurant in Carmel, IN, provides more than management peace of mind. It is a vast improvement in protecting customer wellness.

Hand-washing must be risk-based and risk management is advised to help in the risk assessment of unwashed hands.

Why? Conventional thinking is inviting the regulatory remedies of high fines and executive jail time. If that isn’t enough, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s PulseNet labs are now equipped with whole genome sequencing. It’s a look-more, find-more technology. Please note that unsolved outbreaks are never closed but rather moved to a cold-case status. Whole genome sequencing can facilitate their reopening.

Failure to use readily available control measures is a legal principle that moves a lesser crime to one of negligence. Please check with your legal department for their views on exposure tied to current hand-washing process control, commonly operating neither with standards nor controls.

The Food Safety Modernization Act is moving the attention to prevention, and electronic hand hygiene monitoring will move along with it. EHHM offers operators an upgrade for their hazard analysis and control point plans and the conversion to Hazard Analysis and Risk-Based Preventive Controls.

Operators might consider installing a new flywheel for hand hygiene by creating a test site or two and let the momentum of value drive a rollout.


Original article on Food Safety News, reposted by permission.

© Food Safety News

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