How to limit the risk of food poisoning in the canteen (and everywhere else)?

Issue 55: 1/3/2024

My past experience in Food Hygiene and Quality convinced me of the importance of regular hand washing, especially before meals.
According to estimates by Santé Publique France, food poisoning is responsible for around 150 deaths each year in France, and 420,000 worldwide (source WHO).

Our hands are in constant contact with surfaces contaminated by bacteria, viruses and other pathogens. We then transfer these micro-organisms to our face, eyes and mouth. Washing our hands with soap and water for between 40 and 60 seconds (source WHO) eliminates the majority of these germs, reducing the risk of transmission through food.

It’s such an easy, effortless thing to do, yet so often “forgotten”, especially by our little ones.

Of course, other factors come into play, such as respect for the hot and cold chains, forward motion in kitchens, compliance with use-by dates, hygiene, health and training of kitchen staff…
We can’t influence these parameters, but we can influence our own hygiene and health.

Hands should be washed after every physical activity, as well as after every toilet visit and meal.

If washing your hands is impossible (no sink, no soap, etc.), you can compensate by using a hydro-alcoholic gel, but this will have a greater impact on the natural flora of your hands, and is not to be preferred.

In conclusion, let’s remember that hand-washing is a simple gesture that can help us avoid a number of illnesses (flu, colds, viral gastro-enteritis, as well as food poisoning, which can lead to death).

So, on your marks! Get set! Soap up!

Samuel Le Dorner
AED Vie Scolaire TKO - FLSCO Tutor