The Holiday Guest That No One Invited – Foodborne Illness

By SC Johnson Professional

When people think of the holidays, the focus is on the time spent gathering with family, friends and colleagues to celebrate the ‘most wonderful time of year.’ While most are centering on the happy aspect of the holiday celebrations, the possibility of foodborne illness grows if food service handlers aren’t properly washing their hands or sanitizing food preparation services.

According to the Center for Disease Control, it’s estimated that 48 million people get sick from foodborne illness, which results in the hospitalization of 128,000 people and the death of 3,000[1]. Having an effective cleaning regimen within a foodservice facility can highly reduce the chance of being infected with bacteria and viruses such as E. coli, Norovirus and many others.  

The Importance of Handwashing:

According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), handwashing, along with cleaning surfaces is a major factor in helping to prevent foodborne illness[2] by reducing the risk of spreading bacteria and viruses that may cause it. Proper handwashing includes using soap and water, but if it’s not available, using hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol will suffice.

Although there are a range of sanitizers available, the best way to clean your hands is by using soap and water, especially for those in the food service industry[3]. Refresh Clear FOAM, which is a highly effective cleanser removing 99% of dirt and germs when used as directed, is ideal for food handling environments. It’s formulated with a mild preservative that reduces the risk of skin irritation from using the product and contains skin moisturizers to help prevent dry skin, leaving hands feeling smooth after each use.

When to Wash Hands:

Food service employees should wash their hands immediately before and after handling food, as well as after using the restroom, but there are a few other instances that may not always be top of mind:

  • After handling garbage/waste: After removing a garbage can that’s been filled with food waste, bacteria can latch on to the person’s hands and be transported onto anything that person handles.  
  • After picking up items from the floor: If food, utensils or napkins fall on the floor, any living bacteria on the floor can adhere to it, allowing for cross contamination onto a foodservice worker’s hands.
  • After touching dirty surfaces: Handwashing after handling contaminated items such as cutting boards, dishes or other surfaces can also help reduce the risk of spreading bacteria and viruses that may cause foodborne illnesses.

Remember to Sanitize Surfaces:

One space in foodservice facilities that can become easily contaminated are countertops – and not just those designated for food preparation. Items such as delivery boxes, grocery bags, etc., can transfer bacteria and easily contaminate food surfaces if not sanitized properly. Remember to always wipe down surfaces with a proper disinfectant and be mindful of where items are placed in areas of food handling.

For example, SC Johnson Professional’s Windex® Multi-Surface kills 99.9% of germs and bacteria on hard, non-porous surfaces when used as directed. It’s ideal for areas such as bathrooms, kitchens, tiles, stainless steel, and more.

Bring it all Together

There are a variety of surfaces and areas where germs may be lurking. However, following proper handwashing protocols that includes knowing when and how to wash along with staying on top of sanitizing and disinfecting surfaces can reduce the potential for germ transmission through surface contact. Incorporating these practices as part of your safe food handling behaviors can help keep out our unwanted guest: Foodborne illness.

For more information on SC Johnson Professional’s expert skin care, cleaning and hygiene solutions for industrial and institutional settings, visit

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