Fast food workers: Wash your hands

I have been sick the past few days. I am not sure what caused it, where I contracted the illness, but I am sick. In my mind, this reiterates the need for everyone to wash his or her hands.

A recent study co-authored by William Burkhardt, a food virologist and microbiologist with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA),  explains that more than half of food service workers do not wash their hands before returning to work.

In an article by the Quad-City Times, foodborne illnesses can happen anywhere and they are easy to transmit:

Norovirus, hepatitis A and E. coli, another gastrointestinal infection, are the most common food-borne illnesses involving restaurants, Burkhardt said. Norovirus, like hepatitis A, is spread by fecal matter on food products that are then ingested by unaware patrons. However, the hepatitis A symptoms might not show up for 10-14 days while those with norovirus know much more quickly, in as little as 12 hours after ingestion.

Those who ingest the hepatitis A virus need only a few particles to eventually become ill, according to the microbiologist. "Oftentimes, a hundred million of these viral particles are present in a gram of fecal material," he said.

Even a small piece of fecal matter on a person’s hand can transmit the germs, especially to salads, uncooked food items or in ice. The virus is killed during proper cooking.

To prevent the spread of foodborne illness food service workers should abide by proper handwashing and proper glove usage.