October 15 is “Global Hand Washing Day”

How many times have you washed your hands today?  You might want to pay special attention to this important ritual since today is the 7th annual Global Handwashing Day.  Announced last week by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, the observance is designed to increase awareness and understanding of hand washing with soap as an effective and affordable way to prevent disease around the world.

Hand washing with soap has an important role to play in child survival and health. According to the CDC, approximately 2.2 million children under age 5 die each year from diarrheal diseases and pneumonia. Hand washing with soap can reducethe incidence of diarrhea among children and the incidence of respiratory infections by 21%.  Although people around the world clean their hands with water, few use soap to wash their hands. Washing hands with soap removes bacteria much more effectively.

Proper hand washing also is a critical factor when handling lettuce and other leafy greens – not just in kitchens, but on the farm as well.  The LGMA’s food safety practices have strict requirements when it comes to hand-washing facilities in the field for harvest crews and not having properly stocked and maintained supplies — including soap and hand towels — is a violation of the LGMA protocol. Workers are trained to wash their hands anytime they use the restroom as well as before and after they eat.  Government inspectors who ensure proper food safety practices are being followed on leafy greens farms, frequently stop and ask workers about proper hand washing procedures and they are required to know the answer.

So, let’s all remind each other today — and every day — to wash our hands.   You can celebrate virtually on Twitter and Facebook using the hashtag #iwashmyhands.

Additional information on Global Handwashing Day is available from CDC along with general handwashing information.

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