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PO Box 360
Trenton, NJ 08625-0360

For Release:
September 20, 2005

Fred M. Jacobs, M.D., J.D.
Commissioner

For Further Information Contact:
Nathan Rudy
609-984-7160


 
Commissioner Urges New Jerseyans to Scrub Hands for Health


 

Department of Health and Senior Services (DHSS) Commissioner Fred M. Jacobs, J.D., M.D. is reminding New Jerseyans that they can reduce their risk of food borne illnesses simply by washing their hands properly.   The reminder comes as part of the DHSS' campaign for "National Clean Hands Week," September 18-24, 2005.

 

"Serious illnesses such as Hepatitis A and salmonella poisoning can occur when unclean hands touch food during preparation, delivery or eating, sometimes resulting in death," said Commissioner Jacobs.  "Taking an extra 20 seconds to wash hands with soap and hot water can make a huge difference in keeping families at home and patrons at restaurants healthy and safe."

 

Every September is "National Food Safety Education Month," and this year's theme is "Keep Their Hands Clean with Good Hygiene."  Restaurants, schools and public health departments throughout the country are stressing the importance of proper and timely handwashing practices prior to preparing or serving food.

 

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that one in three people do not wash their hands after using the restroom.  Disease-causing microorganisms such as noroviruses, Hepatitis A, salmonella, shigella and E. coli can be effectively eliminated from hands by washing with hot water and soap for twenty seconds, preventing transmission from unclean hands to food.  The CDC notes that proper handwashing during food preparation can cut the risk of food borne diseases by 50 percent.

 

Commissioner Jacobs also noted that during the flu and cold season proper handwashing is even more important.  "Handwashing is also a primary way individuals can avoid getting the flu or spreading it to friends and family," he said.

 

DHSS is partnering with the New Jersey Restaurant Association to distribute educational posters on handwashing (available at nj.gov/health/eoh/foodweb/) through distributors such as Sysco Foods and Aramark who contract with local schools to provide food services.  Posters will be placed in bathrooms, hallways and cafeterias to remind students of the need to wash their hands before eating.

 

In conjunction with the New Jersey Food Council, DHSS will also be distributing refrigerator thermometers, magnets and other handwashing handouts for use in restaurants and food service facilities.

 

Food workers and consumers should:

 

  • Wash hands after using the restroom and both before and after preparing food, particularly raw meat, poultry, eggs and seafood;
  • Wash hands after changing diapers, handling pets or touching surfaces that could be contaminated;
  • Wash for at least 20 seconds with hot, soapy water including scrubbing hands, wrists, fingernails and between fingers;
  • Rinse and dry hands with a clean towel, air drying device or durable disposable paper towels.

 

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