Personal hygiene and the level of which it’s maintained has a measurable impact on food safety. Many of the primary food contaminants, which include microorganisms, dirt, and oils, can be eliminated by simply following basic hygiene practices like regular handwashing. Unfortunately, many people don’t put enough emphasis on sanitation, even those in the food service industry where food safety standards should be the highest.
The FDA Food Code manual cites an analysis by Greig et al. that found that 61% of the 816 reported worker-associated foodborne illness outbreaks from 1927-2006 were traced back to food service facilities and catered events. The most reported risk factors associated with those food service workers were a failure to properly wash hands and bare hand contact with food.
Portable Sinks: Convenient and Effective
It’s recommended that food service workers wash their hands and exposed portions of their forearms with soap and water for a minimum of 20 seconds before handling food. Rewashing should occur after eating, using the restroom, or smoking. Restaurant chefs, caterers who work at dining halls, or food truck operators with fully equipped trucks have easy access to handwashing water because of the presence of permanent sinks.
Caterers and food service workers who work at outdoor events or operate temporary off-site facilities may not be as fortunate. When working away from a professional kitchen, you will need to provide your own handwashing station. Health department regulations require all workers to have easy access to handwashing water. A portable sink is a convenient and effective solution that many food service professionals have come to rely on and trust.
There are numerous benefits to utilizing a portable sink. It’s an all-in-one sanitation solution that provides everything necessary for handwashing: water, soap, and paper towels. You can find units that are heated, which is essential to meet health department requirements of having access to water that is at least 100 degrees Fahrenheit. Another convenient feature to look for is a wide, deep basin that makes it easy to wash forearms.
Portable sinks are lightweight and compact, making them easy to transport and store. Some models even come with built-in wheels that allow the sink to be moved with ease by a single person. This comes in handy at farmer’s markets or other events where workspace is limited. The unit can be placed where it is convenient for workers to access without being in the way.
Don’t Waste a Good Handwash
Cross-contamination is a food safety hazard to avoid. Hands-free portable sinks aid in prevention by allowing the user to wash without touching the unit with their hands. Water is dispensed by stepping on a foot pump or similar device so there’s no need to touch a faucet handle or knob. Workers are able to wet their hands, lather them with soap, rinse them, and dry them with a single-use paper towel without having to worry about coming into contact with any pathogens. Once hands are washed and dried, gloves should be used when directly handling food.
Handwashing sinks should be used for that purpose only. Separate sinks should be used for food prep and washing dishes. The sinks should be located away from prepared food and clean utensils to avoid the risk of contaminants spreading to those items by splashing off the sink.
Promote Sanitation Often
Education is key when it comes to personal hygiene. Workers should be taught proper hygienic practices, and any improper practices should be corrected immediately. In addition, it is recommended that signs are posted on handwashing sinks to remind workers to wash their hands often.
SINKSNMORE offers a pair of resources your business can utilize. Download our Free Health Department Compliance Solutions Bulletin and request a Free Handwashing Sign at FoodSinksTB.com.
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