When is double hand washing required?
Restrooms are notorious for harboring pathogens, and the restrooms at restaurants are no different. When food workers use the restroom, they should always wash their hands in the restroom sink and then wash them again at a hand washing sink before continuing their duties. This practice is called double hand washing. Double hand washing is like an insurance policy for preventing pathogens: it’s an extra step to ensure your food workers’ hands are clean—just in case.
As a manager, the best way to motivate your food workers to follow safety practices is by teaching them the reasons these practices are important. Food workers are more likely to take the extra time needed for food safety if they understand the logic behind each practice. This is true with any food safety practice, but especially double hand washing, which can seem like an unnecessary extra step. As a teenage employee at Jamba Juice, I followed the double-hand washing rule out of obligation, not understanding. I didn’t learn the reasons behind double hand washing until I joined the StateFoodSafety.com team. If I had been taught the following in my Jamba Juice days, I would have double hand-washed with enthusiasm instead of resignation.
Double the hand washing
Double hand washing removes pathogens from the food worker’s hands. Some workers might think they don’t need double hand washing if they have a good wash in the restroom. However, not everyone who uses the bathroom follows good rules of hygiene. An individual who doesn’t wash their hands—or doesn’t wash them well enough—can spread pathogens to other areas of the bathroom, like a faucet or a door. From there, pathogens can easily spread to the freshly washed hands of food workers. Double hand washing is the solution to this problem. By washing their hands in the hand washing sink, food handlers can ensure that their hands are pathogen-free and ready for work.
Double the customer’s peace of mind
Customers want to eat at safe restaurants, and they are often aware of the food safety measures they see taking place. If a food worker exits the restroom, it helps ease the customers’ mind if the food worker goes directly to a hand washing sink for a wash. Otherwise, customers could wonder and worry about the cleanliness of the food worker’s hands.
Double the safety
The FDA Food Code includes double hand washing because it’s important for food safety. As food workers understand the reasons behind this practice, they will follow it more consistently, making your restaurant that much safer.
This post was originally published in August 2016 and has been updated for freshness, accuracy, and comprehensiveness.