October 17, 2021

In Norovirus Season, Remember Food Safety Begins With Clean Hands

During cold, flu and norovirus season it’s important to remember that clean hands are essential when handling or preparing food. The University of Minnesota Extension Service (UMES) has these tips for hand washing for food preparation. These steps are important any time of the year, since clean hands can help prevent outbreaks from everything from hepatitis A to Salmonella and E. coli.

Hand WashingBefore you prepare or handle food, wash your hands in this way: wet your hands with warm running water, soap them, then, rub your palms and the back of your hands for at least twenty seconds, UMES recommends. “Do not forget your nails and the areas between your fingers. If you use hands to mix food, first wash them with a brush and get under your fingernails.”

When rinsing the soap from your hands, start at the wrist. Use paper towels to dry your hands and to turn off the faucet.

Testing the flavor of your creation? Never lick food off of your fingers and if you use a spoon to sample your food, only use it once. Also remember that there is no Five Second Rule. If food drops on the floor, it is not edible no matter how clean the floor seems to be.

Remove rings or other jewelry before preparing food. Use disposable gloves, especially if you have scabs, cuts or burned hands.

Once your hands are clean, keep them out of your mouth, nose and hair. Use a clean tissue to cover sneezes and coughs and wash your hands again after discarding it. Wash your hands after touching garbage, cleaning supplies, your pet or your pet’s dishes and bedding. And always wash your hands after using the bathroom.

Stay out of the kitchen if you have a cold, the flu, food poisoning, or norovirus. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends refraining form food preparation for three days after norovirus symptoms resolve. A good sanitizing solution to use in the home after someone has been sick is one teaspoon of household bleach, such as Clorox, in one quart of water, to sanitize counter tops and sinks.



  1. I sing “Happy Birthday” (to me), while washing my hands. It takes about 15 to 20 seconds, so you get the proper timing, and it puts you in a good mood.

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