To Wash or Not to Wash? That is the Question ... and it's not answered in the Model Food Code.
The FDA can't make those decisions but an operator must, every single shift. In a study done by the CDC (J Food Prot. 2006 Oct;69(10):2417-23), it is estimated that 8.6 handwashes per hour worked is required to meet The Model Food Code which treats all touches as the same risk.
This exercise is designed to help categorize the daily touches in a foodservice environment and set up a decision support system for the Person-In-Charge (PIC) based on science and human behavior. The outcome is TouchReady™ Surfaces, a foundation for ServeReady™ Hands. For most operations, 8-9 handwashes per hour is unrealistic, thus, which handwashes will be skipped?
Each surface touched by a food handler carries a different risk of contaminating that food. These must be grouped to facilitate the setting of risk-based standards and the establishment of cleaning protocols with their frequency. Measurement technologies must be agreed between Operations and Quality Assurance in preparation for documentation and the sharing of results with those accountable for cleaning, handwashing and Risk Management.
This is HACCP, risk-based handwashing, sorting out the priority touches that must trigger a handwash.
Some dining facilities and many bars turn the lights down to create a mood of relaxation and take the edge off the sharp realities of life away-from-home. In all restaurants, lucky for us diners, the hand-prints of both previous customers and staff remain invisible. Out-of-sight is of little consolation to those charged with protecting customers and staff from norovirus and hep A - two of the most difficult and prolific foodborne illnesses.
Handwashing For Life's Personal Touch is a combined risk assessment and employee training tool. It is a simple chart which helps prioritize those touches that should trigger a handwash. The vertical axis rises from the clean to the heavily contaminated surface while the horizontal axis increases in transfer probability from left to right. In the attached template four high priority touches have been included to get started.
An assessor, usually the manager or their designee, first takes the information from the Dirty Dozen analysis. Then each staff position is visually monitored to see who touches what in the course of executing their accountabilities, looking particularly at their intersections with the high-risk, high transfer surfaces.
The Personal Touch chart is filled in and reviewed and refined with the Person/s-In -Charge. This is now ready to help train and motivate the staff to wash their hands at Safe Levels: quality (ProGrade) and frequency (W.I.N./Team Tally).