Requiem for a Germ-aphobe, Part II

Let’s continue our discussion on staying healthy~!  Before we explore any more myths, maybe it would be a good idea to discuss something that actually works…Part II

The Dirty Truth about Your Hands…

Image courtesy of "Marin" and

Image courtesy of “Marin” and

As a chef I can tell you that the dirtiest part of any kitchen is almost always the peoples’ hands.  That’s true in your home and work, too!  I know that the best way to keep my staff healthy and on the job, and to keep my customers feeling great, I make proper hand washing a top priority every day!  Sometimes it’s the easiest thing that turns out to be the most effective.  If you want the best shot at surviving “the worst flu season in years,” you need to know when and how to keep your hands at their best.  Here are some things to remember:

–        Next to the flu shot, washing your hands regularly is the best way to prevent getting sick.  It EVEN works better than mega-doses of vitamin C! Shoot for every 2-3 hours (or before meals, after leaving work, and whenever you are preparing foods).

–        National research suggests that hands are “washed” only about 2/3 of the time, and proper hand washing occurs even LESS frequently.  Did you know that the State of Washington requires all food service staff to wash their hands twice before returning to work from the bathroom?  That’s good advice for everyone else, too!

–        Proper hand washing should take between 20-25 seconds of your time.  If you are a quick-spritz type of person, you are probably just wasting your time.  You can teach your kids to wash their hands more effectively by encouraging them to sing while they wash.  Simple songs like “Happy Birthday”, or “Yankee Doodle Dandy” work well to help them reach their 20-second goal, but any of the songs that get stuck in their heads will work.

–        The most commonly missed areas of the hands are the nails and nail beds, along with the backs of the thumbs and wrists.  To make things easier, keep your fingernails well groomed and have less than ¼ inch of overhang to make it hard for grime to hide.

–        Your skin does a really great job of keeping the bad germs out of your body, but easy targets are the warm, moist places of the body, like: your eyes, nose, mouth, throat and lungs; as well as any unnatural breaks in the skin, like: cuts, burns, fresh piercings, and sores.  Keep that in mind the next time you want to adjust your contact lenses, or bite your nails.

–        Bacteria and Virus responsible for everything from the 24-hour bug, to the common cold, to the flu (and even worse) can survive on hard surfaces (door handles, light switches, telephones, etc) for 7-10 days.  So washing frequently is a MUST.

–        Alcohol rubs are not a substitute for hand washing.  They may be convenient, but they can’t kill everything, and without the vigorous hand rubbing and water to wash away the bad guys, they are just hanging around ready to cause trouble later.  (Kind of like how the dead influenza viruses in your annual flu shot can still get you sick if your immune system is already compromised).  If you have to use them, wash your hands again at your earliest convenience.


About ChefAdamRD

Chef by day, Dietitian by night. Weekends are spent in my sleepy water town just south of Seattle, enjoying rainy days with my lovely wife, Ray; and our two dogs. I've been cooking for as long as I can remember; it's taken me all over the World and I'm so excited to be collaborating on this Blog with my Mother. I hope you all find something you weren't even looking for. Keep checking back for new content!
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