This month is packed with food related hashtag days, recognition days, and awareness days. What month isn’t, right? But this month, in particular, has a few I want to recognize. I have a few articles coming your way to help us celebrate, but this Saturday, October 15th, I am recognizing Global Handwashing Day.

Now, Global Handwashing Day may not be the most glamorous sounding event, but when you stop to understand and think about it, we’re marking a day of awareness that helps to save lives! That’s right, washing hands with soap saves lives.

The homepage for Global Handwashing Day tells us the day is specifically designed to:

  • Foster and support a global and local culture of handwashing with soap
  • Shine a spotlight on the state of handwashing around the world
  • Raise awareness about the benefits of handwashing with soap

Without the habit of handwashing we risk spreading disease, causing serious illness, and cross-contamination. Following are some helpful stats from the CDC in case you aren’t sure just how important hand washing is.

  • It is estimated that washing hands with soap and water could reduce diarrheal disease-associated deaths by up to 50% percent.
  • Researchers estimate that if everyone routinely washed their hands, a million deaths a year could be prevented.
  • A large percentage of foodborne disease outbreaks are spread by contaminated hands. Proper hand washing practices can reduce the risk of foodborne illness and other infections.
  • Handwashing can reduce the risk of respiratory infections by 16%

As food and beverage professionals, it our duty to be food safety warriors. While food-borne illness is most commonly related to poor hand washing practices, it’s easy to forget or not realize that this is a common reason for cross-contamination. And cross-contamination is a major cause of allergic reactions and intolerance-based upsets. Food allergies affect 20% of our attendees in one way or another.

It’s easy to fall into the cause systematic thinking that handwashing is just a best practice. But if we take a moment to consider the facts, ensuring our staff all implement the habit of proper handwashing at all times, carries weight.

So, this Saturday, let’s examine and even reinvent handwashing. Let’s refresh the signage, let’s highlight it during briefings, and let’s ensure food safety is top of mind for all of us.