Tag Archives: wash hands

How we pay for being the Great Unwashed

Stressed woman
We cause our own illnesses and never know why

It’s the cause of just about every sickness we’ll ever have – sloppy hygiene that leaves us open to infection.

Sure, Great Unwashed is not a handle any of us like.

But it’s accurate, however much we may be in denial.

Hurry, hurry!

And if we think about it for more than two seconds, we’ll recognise the truth – and ourselves. Being the Great Unwashed is the downside of this fast-paced life we live, stampeded into Go-Go-Go! all the time.

Yeah, we’re unwashed – and here’s the dirt on us – the Never-Never society – never wash, never clean, never healthy:

Pretty gruesome, hey?

Because somehow our culture is all screwed up – we expect to bathe and groom regularly, but there’s so little focus on washing hands.

Start with your own home. Nice shower, nice bath – the indulgence of getting clean, symbolic for so many of us in washing away the day, soaking away our troubles.

Style isn’t everything

But how about the loo? Not how stylish it looks, or the indulgence of its heated seat – but how far is it from the basin? How easy is it to clean your hands after a major session and you need to get rid of the yuck?

Kind of OK if you’re about to have a shower or bath. Not so good if you’re ready to go to work and on your way out of there.

Because what’s the first thing you do after using the toilet paper? Pull up your pants, right? ‘Cos you can’t shuffle to the basin tied up like a chain-gang con. But you haven’t washed your hands yet, so whatever’s on them is transferred to your pants – and any other clothing you might fix at the same time.

Ew! Which brings us to another gross-out:

So somehow you make it to the basin and you hit the taps – yuck on your clothes and now on the handles. Will you remember to wash them off? Make that a maybe.

It’s easier though, if the basin is next to the loo. With any luck, you might be able to scrub up while sitting on the hopper. Not easy, skewing yourself around – but do-able if you’re determined.

Exactly the opposite if you have a separate loo. It’s a whole mission to get yourself back on your feet and ready to move, so chances are you forget about the whole business and get the heck out of Dodge.

Dirty dinner

Puts a whole new complexion on the “guest’s cloaks” you have under the stairs, doesn’t it? If it’s just a toilet and no basin, visitors will just have to sit down at your dinner party as if everything’s OK.

Which is exactly where our problem starts.

We THINK of ourselves as a clean society and we THINK we’re OK. Our hands LOOK clean, so we ASSUME they are. No visible germs, so it never occurs to us that there are any.

AND WE GO THROUGH THE WHOLE DAY LIKE THAT!

All the time we have the mind-set that because our hands look clean, there’s no need to worry. Which is how come it’s possible we might sit down to dinner in a restaurant with no soap and water coming anywhere near our hands since before breakfast. Don’t you love curry, all that touch-feely eating-with-your-fingers stuff?

And never mind how clean your hands started out, what have you touched during the day that might have added to the invisible nasties that are already there? What did you pick up? What did you throw away? Who did you shake hands with? What did you have to wipe off?

How about money? Well for a start, the shock merchants will sound off that 90% of US dollar bills are contaminated with cocaine. But worse, paper money can easily carry more germs than a toilet – e. coli, enterobacter, salmonella, acinetobacter, staphylococcus aureus, bacillus, streptococcus pneumoniae, norovirus, take your pick.

Uh huh. Then how about credit cards, ATMs, mobiles, supermarket trolleys and the rest? When do they ever get cleaned? And yet we think they’re safe – well sure we do, because why don’t we wash our hands after touching them?

Do you know where it’s been?

But do you know what we touch more than anything else – dirty hands or whatever? Our faces, 2,000 – 3,000 times a day. Our most sensitive, vulnerable places – eyes, nose and mouth – every germ’s favourite way into the body.

Remember norovirus? Extreme cramps, vomiting, diarrhoea, the works – the Don’t-Wash-Hands Disease, probably the best proof yet that we’re The Great Unwashed.

We don’t think of ourselves as that, but we are. And until we wake up and do something about it, all kinds of horrible things can happen to us – and it will all be our fault.

Originally posted 2015-06-23 12:29:11.

Wash your hands, yes – but dry them safely?

Girl with soapy hands
And for your next trick – how to get them dry safely

You’ve done the whole thing – soap and running water for two minutes, the backs of your hand too, and in between the fingers.

Phase One complete – exactly the way we’re inspired to by those hygiene experts at Northampton General Hospital.

So now your hands are dripping.

Clean, yes – but with residual germs contained in the water drops.

Which means Phase Two – removing the moisture AND the residual germs.

Where’s the drying doohickey?

If you’re at home, there’s probably a towel within easy reach – a fresh one, because you’re that kind of person.

That’s OK, as long as you only use the thing once. Wiping your hands gets rid of the moisture – and has a certain scraping action that gets a lot of the germs off.

But now they’re on the towel which is already moist and at room temperature. Perfect for germ reproduction, which they will certainly do, doubling in number every twenty minutes or so. Chuck it in the laundry and they’ll get sorted.

But put the towel back on the rail to be used again and you’re setting yourself up for re-contamination. You wash your hands again and a whole load of new germs arrive just when you think you’ve got them clean.

Uh, huh. You’ve gone backwards.

Re-germing

Better if you’re in a hotel of course. Fresh linen every day, so it’s use once and chuck. But have two showers, one in the evening and one next morning, both with the same towel and… you guessed it – you’ve re-germed yourself again.

How about elsewhere? Public places, shared washrooms, lines of loos and hand basins and – gasp – other people.

Keep your eyes open, what you’ll see will shock you. Like around half of everybody busily pushing through don’t even bother to wash their hands. Weirdly, some of them will even look like they’re going through the motions – actually standing at the basin – but not physically doing anything.

Why is this, people all in a rush? The place might be done up nice, but it’s hardly where you’ll want to linger. No plugs in the basins for a start – though that’s a good way of compelling you to use running water.

I don’t wanna queue

There certainly IS an issue with hand drying. If the place gets anywhere busy, like Saturday morning at a shopping mall, there’s ALWAYS a queue for the towel dispenser or air dryer.

Right there could be one reason people don’t wash – they see the queue and stump out of there in a late model huff. Another sub-group avoid the queue by wiping their hands on their clothes. Let’s hope neither of them are going to sit down and have a meal with their hands like that.

Could also be the drying method puts them off. Plus the six to ten steps across the floor to the drying thing with your hands dripping, before you can even start.

The yuck method

It’s dying a death now, but the old cloth roller towel dispenser is still around. You know the one – where you grab both edges of a section previously used by someone else to give yourself a fresh piece, pull down hard and then wipe.

Yes, it gets your hands dry – but there’s a good chance you’ve got somebody else’s germs in using it. And the somebody after you gets yours.

How about a paper towel dispenser?

Fiendishly difficult contraptions to operate when your hands are wet – jamming, bunching up, or refusing to dispense all together. You get your hands dry alright, but usually with a wodge the size of a football before you’ve finished – and requiring a dexterity level at least on par with those amazing technical ladies who solder miniature circuit boards.

Despite all this, paper towels are undoubtedly the safest. Use once and throw away – brilliant in principle.

The turbo-blaster

But technology’s not finished with you yet, because there’s also the air dryer. Either a weak buzzing machine that does nothing, or a force-feed jet blast from a supersonic wind tunnel. Yes, you’ll get you hands dry if you wait long enough – though it will auto shut-off at least five times before you do.

Uh, huh. Check the floor underneath. A lot of people like you dripped for several minutes before the drying became effective. And have you noticed how humid it always seems to get in there?

A lot of water drops are being blasted off into smaller germ-laden droplets and spreading throughout the room. You walk in to go for a sprinkle – and walk out with a dose of flu.

King of the dryers right now is undoubtedly the triple whammy air blade dryer. Pioneered by the Dyson people, who are all totally brilliant. But again, not designed for someone with dripping hands.

Check the floor of the compartment underneath where you put your hands in though – there’s usually a pool of water. Look at the walls alongside and you’ll see damp squidges radiating out – airborne germ clouds, just like the other jobs.

So what to do?

Hygiene magic

Lucky for all of us, there’s a guy called Joe Smith who has it all worked out. Shake your hands after washing, then dry them with a single sheet of folded paper. Check out his video on TED – if nothing else, his charisma will have you remembering how to get your hands dry safely for ever.

Joe’s mantra is SHAKE your hands to get rid of the drops – then FOLD the paper to give you enough absorbency to remove the moisture. Try it, it works – big time.

But there’s still the problem of acquiring your piece of paper in the first place. Joe has them all primed and ready. But you will have to battle with some kind of dispenser – and with wet hands as we’ve seen before, you really need to be Fukimoto-san, high-tech solder expert.

There is however, a way out. To reverse Joe’s mantra and do it backwards: first FOLD, then SHAKE.

Fold, as in have the single sheets pre-folded in a dispenser you can extricate them from with wet hands. NONE of the existing ones on the market allow you to do this with any ease.

Pre-folding

OK, so have a cup of coffee while you think about it – at Costa’s, where they seem to know a thing or two. Including – though they don’t know it – how to get your hands dry.

Because the paper napkin you take to your table is already pre-folded into four – and easily accessible, packed loose in an open-topped container along with the spoons, sugar, straws and stir-sticks for you to help yourself.

Picking up one of those without lifting a whole fistful is a breeze. So if your washroom had a box of those on the vanity slab beside each basin, it would be a doddle.

No more trudging to the dispenser or dryer, dripping on the floor. The FOLD is already done. You SHAKE your hands, keeping them in the basin so all the drops stay in the right place. Then you pick up a sheet and dry your hands. Clean, dry and safe, because all the germs go in the bin.

Back to Earth

So why all the rigmarole with expensive machines that don’t really work?

Search us.

Though the legend is not lost on us that when the Americans sent the astronauts into space, they spent millions developing a pen that would write in a vacuum, upside down if necessary, and on all surfaces.

The Russians gave their cosmonauts pencils.

Paper, scissors, rock – paper wins.

Originally posted 2015-06-11 17:51:00.

Chicken is OK to eat, as long as you’re careful

Girl with chicken
There’s a problem with chicken? I never knew there was a problem with chicken

Well, here we are.

One week on from Food Safety Week – one week on from the 2015 Chicken Challenge – and most of us are still alive. A roll of drumsticks please!

Yep, we’re learning.

Doing the bold thing

Thanks to sterling efforts by the Food Standards Agency (FSA), we’re all making the effort to avoid food poisoning from chicken by:

  • keeping raw chicken separate from other all other food, where it can’t drip or leak on the bottom shelf of the fridge
  • not washing raw chicken or splashing water from it around as this spreads highly contagious campylobacter germs
  • actively washing everything that’s been in contact with raw chicken to remove germs from cutting boards, utensils, and of course hands – all with plenty of soap and hot water
  • ensuring chicken is thoroughly cooked through – no more pink meat and juices running clear

Do all these things and we’re safe from the widespread campylobacter bug – the one that causes more of us to have cramps, vomiting and diarrhoea than any other common tummy germ.

Widespread? Oh yes. It’s the UK’s No 1 cause of tummy upsets.

Most birds, all birds

Hardly surprising as around 75% of all poultry has campylobacter resident in its gut. And we are a nation of chicken-eaters – 2.2 million chickens a week, 803 million chickens a year.

That’s a meal of chicken at least once a month for everyone in the UK.

Which has the FSA breathing fire and brimstone that poultry producers and the supermarkets should be doing something about it. They want birds with campylobacter reduced to zero. 280,000 people a year go ill with campylobacter – and this is the Twenty-First Century for goodness sake!

Other people are in on the act too. Like the consumer heavy who said: “It beggars belief that nearly three-quarters of chickens on sale in supermarkets are still infected with this potentially deadly bug and that no retailers have met the FSA’s target.”

Infected?

Healthy as nature intended

Time to get real. You see, 75% of all poultry has campylobacter because it occurs naturally in birds. Their digestive system is not the same as ours, so the bacterium is benign, non-pathogenic, harmless.

Inhabited, yes, but not infected. All these birds are perfectly healthy.

Robbing them of campylobacter could even do them harm.

Besides, we know the dangers and how to fix them, why point a finger at the poultry farmers?

It’s like locking up cows because they get muddy feet. Well of course they do, they eat grass – and in this green, green, rain-drenched UK of ours, grass gets wet all the time, so mud is inevitable.

But we don’t penalise the cows for muddy feet – just like we don’t penalise chickens for having campylobacter.

We have a defence

Heat through pasteurisation kills the germs in milk – and heat through cooking kills the germs in chickens.

So yes, it’s right to make a fuss, the FSA is right. But not by controlling the birds.

By fixing the packaging.

By protecting us from any leaks or contamination from raw chicken meat, right through to the cooked birds which are harmless.

And yes, right now most packaging is pretty manky. Rack ’em, stack ’em, and pack ’em bargain basement stuff that leaks all over the place – no wonder we come down with the bug.

About the best are cook-in-the-bag prepared recipes. Safe because the chicken and all ingredients are sealed in to make sure the recipe works.

But check out any of the El Cheapo packs of wings and drumsticks – it’s a whole other story.

And if that stuff leaks on your other shopping, on in the fridge when you finally get it home, the family could be in for a really ropey few days.

Time for action

Yeah, so come on FSA – hit those guys hard for better packaging and everybody will be better off.

Until then though, don’t take chances. Keep your chicken in its own separate plastic wrapping away from everything else – and don’t forget to wash your hands. (Tweet this)

Bon appetit!

Originally posted 2015-05-29 22:22:22.

How to make 95% of your illnesses go away

Girl showing off hands
Wash your hands regularly and you
need never go to hospital again

A few ground rules.

Let’s not include upsets caused by your mind. No romantic distresses, job apprehensions, exam nerves or stress-related angst.

We’re talking genuine sicknesses here – like colds, flu or worse. Or tummy bugs that might start with diarrhoea and get nasty from there.

Yeah, you got gut ache

All the way from mild discomfort to hospital stuff – including monsters like typhoid. Pretty well anything you can eat or touch.

Are you ready?

Wash your hands.

That’s it. Just, wash your hands.

Ah, but you’ve got to do it properly. Because though all of us claim we wash our hands, 95% of us don’t do it properly, or even at all.

Don’t believe it?

Researchers at Michigan State University hid in bathrooms and recorded physical evidence. Seems most of us waggle our hands under the tap and that’s it.

Ah, but that’s Yanks, you say. We know better here.

Oh yeah? According to a recent survey right here in UK, 62% of men and 40% of women admitted that they didn’t even bother.

Uh huh. So that’s a whole bunch of us waltzing round with poo and wee on our hands.

You ready for the next yucky? We’re not just waltzing around, but we’re touching our faces 2,000 – 3,000 times a day. Transferring invisible gunk to our eyes, mouth and nose – exactly the same passages germs use to get in – over and over, like we WANT to catch a bug.

Go away, bugs!

Which makes it kind of unsurprising when we do. We’re so unhygienic we DESERVE to come down with something – at least norovirus or one of those other nasties that gives us the runs.

Worse than that, we use those same yucky hands to eat. Sure, they don’t look yucky, but those billions of viruses and bacteria living on there are so small, how the hell would we know?

OK, so you’re ambitious and pushing your career, so busy you often eat at your desk – burger and chips while you check your business pitches – multi-tasking so your bosses love you.

You got it – those same greasy fingers all over your keyboard and phone.

And when was the last time you wiped either of them down – last week, last month, last year? So that’s burger and chips on top of the chicken fajitas from yesterday, and the egg salad mayonnaise on wholewheat from the day before.

No wonder experts reckon you’ve got upwards of 10 million disease-causing bacteria living there – that place is a zoo!

Run to the Doc

So who’s fault is it if one of these bugs riding round on your hands decides to hit you with an infection? You and the other 65 million people living in bonny UK – all gumming up the works to see your GP, or running to A&E with your tummy bug because you can’t get an appointment?

And we have the nerve to say that our NHS services can’t cope!

With not even a guilty conscience that all we have to do is use a little soap and water after the loo and before eating to make all those ailments go away. Aren’t we heartily ashamed of ourselves?

We should be. So to pull our thinking straight about something we all know, here’s a polite hand-washing reminder from America’s health heavyweights, the Centers for Disease Control – the same people who safeguard the world against Ebola, malaria, TB, diabetes and all the other more serious challenges or doctors are fighting with every day.

Easy, huh?

Just wash your hands and everything goes away. (Tweet this)

No probs

You don’t have to buy Imodium because your tummy’s fine. Or get the Doc to check your chest because your lungs are clear. Or have your appendix removed because it’s fine.

Super-boring, nothing to talk about, and you should live to be a hundred.

Not allergic to soap are you? So use a sanitising gel. Carry one with you always, because you can’t always get to a bathroom.

Mind how you go though, clean hands can’t protect you from accidents.

Originally posted 2015-05-13 14:46:59.

You’re already covered in germs, so why aren’t you sick?

Saisfied girl
If your hands are clean, you’re safe for life!

Germs are everywhere.

Outside you, all over your body.

Inside you too – as much as 6 pounds of them. Smaller than the eye can see, which means billions and billions. Like, more than 60 billion in your mouth alone – more than the number of people on Earth.

Yes, you’re covered in germs – and you’re still walking around, happy as Larry.

Living with danger

First off, your immune system is up and running, keeping you out of trouble. Like a Star Trek force-field, it prevents infections happening before they start.

That cut on your hand, for instance. It bled a bit, so you sucked at it until it stopped. Maybe washed it, but that made it bleed more. So you held a tissue over it before it stopped you doing stuff – and then you forgot about it.

A cut, on your hand. Which you use for everything. Getting goo in it, dirt and crud. Petrol even, from filling the car. Dirty water, clean water, hair gel, raw food. See how your force-field protects you?

And it’s stronger, more effective for all the dirt you used to eat as a kid. All the bacteria types it learnt about and sussed how to handle. The body’s bio-database, keeping you healthy.

The 2% bad guys

Second, not all germs are bad. Only around 2% contain harmful pathogens that can actually do you damage. The rest are either benign, just coasting until they find the REAL host they’re looking for, or even actively beneficial.

It’s not just pro-biotic yoghurt that’s good for you. Down in your gut there’s around 4,000 other bacteria types necessary for digestion. The body did a deal with them millennia ago – now they live inside you in perfect synergy – you scratch my back, and I’ll scratch yours.

Thing is though, 2% of billions and billions is still a lot.

Which means you’re still at hazard if you don’t take care.

Snatch hold of a grab-handle in the Underground and you’re probably OK, even though it’s a high-touch object and certainly has germs on it. Just not the bad guys, most of the time.

Grab hold of a bed-rail visiting somebody in hospital though, and it’s another story. It’s a high-touch object too, but in hospital people are ill. A large number of ill people all in one place. So all that hand-washing they bang on about is to protect you as much as them.

And just because you’re safe most of the time doesn’t mean you should take chances.

Wash, wash, wash

Washing your hands after using the loo is like super-important. It’s impossible to avoid getting yuck on them, especially if you do a No 2.

But you’ve got to wash properly, not waggle your fingers under the tap. Use soap and work it around and through your fingers. Keep at it while you run all of “Happy Birthday” through your head. 90% of us never do this – and then wonder why we come down with norovirus or salmonella or e. coli or whatever.

Use a paper towel to dry off with too. Not a cloth one, even at home. Germs cling onto that big time.

And not one of those air dryers either – you know, the hot-blow squeegees? Just look around, on the walls and floor where they’ve got these things. Drops of water, right? Faecal-contaminated water from somebody’s bum.

So keep your hands to yourself and get out of Dodge, ASAP. You’re in a bad location where the 2% boys hang out – which is why public toilets have the bad rep that they do. They might look spic and span, but all that moisture – germs love it, floating around in the air.

And bad germs from our hands probably cause more illnesses than any other sources put together. We touch ourselves and each other – particularly our faces – and the 2% boys climb in through the soft mucous membranes of our eyes, nose and mouth.

Next thing you know, heave-ho, up-chuck, beebaa siren – and they’re rushing you into an over-crowded A&E.

A Little Bit of Soap

Yup, suddenly you’re another statistic for the punch-drunk NHS – continually reeling from admissions like yours – that could all have been prevented by a Little Bit of Soap, like the Jarmels sang in 1961.

If 95% of us don’t wash our hands properly, how many hospital cases could we prevent if we did? (Tweet this)

Which is why, wherever germs threaten, more and more places are starting to use a Hypersteriliser.

No, it won’t clean your hands – nor will it knock out the billions of good germs already inside your body.

But it will take out ALL germs – including the 2% boys – in any room that’s treated with its super-fine germ-killing hydrogen peroxide plasma mist.

No getting sick, no over-crowded hospital – even though you’re still covered in germs.

Have a nice day!

Originally posted 2015-05-11 12:21:21.

Wash your hands, good. Dry your hands, whoops!

Girl washing hands
Pull your hands out,
but don’t shake them all about

Ever noticed how you can be right and wrong, both at the same time?

Like, we all know we should wash our hands – but how about drying them?

Yeah, you say to yourself, as you pull the plug. Bye-bye germs, so long suckers.

Washing is only the start

But what do you do with your WET hands?

Ah, no problem – there’s a high-powered air dryer on the wall.

No touch, nice and hygienic, sorted.

Er, not exactly.

Because that high-powered air gets blown somewhere – and it’s all round the washing area. You can often feel it on a cold day – nice warm air, to take the chill off.

Nice, warm bacteria-loaded air – because not everything got washed down the drain. Some of it’s in the water drops on your hand. Some of it won’t come off with a blast of air. You know how a wet leaf can stick to you? Well, a pernicious bacteria can do the same.

We’re all scrubbers

Yup, to be sure everything comes off needs friction. Which means a towel.

But not one of those cloth towels that gets used over and over. That’s a growing collection of germs – not just yucky, but seriously deadly. Like that kitchen wiping-up cloth for the dishes – double yuck.

Not one of those dispenser roller towels either. The idea is that you get a dry unused bit for you to use – but reality is, you grab the wet bit to pull the roll down, collecting germs on the way. And, sod’s law, it’s probably all used anyway, with no more pull-down left. Deadly deadly.

The best is paper towel. Use once and chuck. (Tweet this) No germs to transfer to anyone – plus you get the wiping action that scrubs off residual germs hiding in the damp.

Conserve, avoid waste

There is, of course, a whole hoo-hah about how many you use. Don’t waste, conserve.

Totally agree. And the best way to do that is shake off excess water before you start. Excess GERMY water – which you don’t want to go spattering in all directions.

This demo by Joe Smith gives you a good lesson on avoiding wastage. But you’ll have to think twice about how briskly you shake your hands outside the basin.

Think hard about the hazards of public washrooms too. The build-up of germ threshold from one day’s usage could be substantial.

Let’s hope the service people are using a Hypersteriliser. Otherwise it will be there till tomorrow, ready and waiting to build up some more.

Let’s be careful out there.

Originally posted 2015-04-09 15:51:15.

Campylobacter: playing chicken with your health

Girl with tummy ache
Forget to wash your hands and you’ll soon know all about it

Nasty, this one.

And one of the main causes of stomach upsets everywhere.

Cramps, fever, diarrhoea, vomiting. You need it like a hole in the head.

Which anyone who catches it probably has, because you get it by being forgetful.

Seriously, yes.

Not always supermarkets

Because you can blame it on the supermarkets, or the poultry farmers who supply them – but ultimately, it’s your own fault. The same as not washing your hands before handling food – carelessness that can make you very ill.

You see, it’s a fact of life that campylobacter lives naturally in the intestines of healthy birds.

Because of that, it’s also found in water, food, soil, or surfaces that have been contaminated with the faeces of these birds or other animals.

It’s highly contagious, so you can get it from other humans too.

Which means not washing your hands explains the hole in your head.

Campylobacter is not a thing to take chances with.

And since it occurs naturally, it’s up to you to take the necessary precautions. (Tweet this)

Safe if you’re careful

Because as long as you’re careful, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t enjoy chicken, turkey or any other kind of poultry. As an affordable source of protein, it’s tasty, easy to prepare, liked by almost everyone and pretty well unbeatable.

First off, it’s safest to assume though that campylobacter is always possible, even likely. So if you have to handle raw poultry at all, ALWAYS wash your hands.

That applies to anything it comes in contact with too – knives, chopping boards, counter-tops. While it’s still raw, it contaminates everything.

It pays to keep it separate from other foods you’re preparing too. Cross-contamination before you’ve cooked anything is all too easy.

Once you’ve cooked things of course, the problem goes away. Just make sure it’s grilled, roasted, boiled, stewed or fried enough to make sure any bacteria cannot survive. Heat kills it, so under-done meat is a hazard.

That said, there IS an onus on the poultry farmer to lessen the risk.

Since campylobacter occurs naturally in healthy birds, removing any risk before sales happen must be part of the cost of doing business.

There are already costs in preparing product for market – often right through to customer-ready finished packaging – so ensuring output is safe to eat lies squarely with the producer.

But supermarkets must accept responsibility too – part of due diligence to ensure ALL foodstuffs conform to regulations and are risk free.

Quality control

Besides, who buys any product without checking it, especially five tons of it at a time?

In fact, knowing that campylobacter is an issue right from the beginning of the supply chain, the food industry and the government should probably have some kind of certification that the product has been officially inspected and is campylobacter-free.

Government, yeah.

As if.

So far they’ve got to the strategy workshop. Expect official action within the next ten years or so.

Either that, or the supermarkets should voluntarily take it on themselves.

What home-maker would not be reassured by a sticker on her purchase that the product has passed all health tests and is guaranteed free from all bacteria? Tesco Product Integrity Checked. Worth paying a little extra for, right?

Which makes it one of those where you pay a little more because you know the quality is better. All supermarkets are price-sensitive, but quality issues are the game-changer.

Safety begins at home

All of which should be in ADDITION to your normal health precautions:

  • Don’t handle raw product
  • Wash your hands if you do
  • Wash all utensils and prep areas
  • Keep poultry separate from other foods
  • Never eat it unless it’s properly cooked

It’s keeping healthy by avoiding germs – the best possible way.

You don’t want to be bent double on the loo, or in hospital with dehydration.

Not playing chicken at all.

And weren’t you brought up never to play with your food?

Originally posted 2015-03-26 13:24:48.

‘Tis the season to be jolly careful about hygiene

Sad Santa kid
Don’t take chances – nobody wants a bug for Christmas

You better watch out – flu and norovirus are coming to town. And bringing a whole load of their friends with them.

Both are highly contagious.

Both transfer easily on contact – mistletoe, kiss-kiss, shake hands, hug-hug, back-slap.

Which means your festive season could be over before it starts – friends and family with you.

The cruise ship curse

Norovirus particularly, gets in on the act preparing food – norovirus, gastroenteritis, food poisoning, stomach flu, call it what you will. And there’s nothing festive about it – vomiting, diarrhoea, fever, headache and fatigue, a real party pooper.

Nine hospitals have already closed wards because of it – not enough beds for people with complications. Young children and old people who dehydrate, which can very quickly become life threatening.

Associated nasties

Flu is not nice either – the end of jollity and just as catching.

Don’t take chances when the sneezing starts. You’ll never know what kind you have until it hits you – and it could be a killer. The global outbreak of 1918 killed 50 million people, more than twice the casualties in the whole of World War One.

Yeah, yeah, it’s Mad Friday and everybody’s having fun.

Ho, ho, ho – food and drink and lots of it.

So a few precautions are not just a good idea – they’re absolutely essential.

Hike up your hygiene

Like washing you hands for a start. As often as you can think about it.

Germs love getting in through our body’s access ports – mouth, nose, eyes, ears. And we touch our faces up to 3,000 times a day – 3 to 5 times every waking minute.

Better still, clobber all germs before they start.

It takes just twenty minutes to mist up a room with hydrogen peroxide. An actively charged super-oxidiser, it grabs viruses and bacteria out of the air and rips them  apart by shoving oxygen at them.  All germs gone, the place is completely sterile.

Kind of crucial when you remember that neither flu nor norovirus respond to antibiotics. You can’t stop them once they’ve got you, so you’ve got to strike first.

And germs are ALWAYS around. There’s never a time when you can forget about them.

But now that you know, you’re good to go.

Let’s get this party started.

Originally posted 2014-12-19 12:21:25.

Your life is in your own hands

Woman in beauty pose
You touch your face
3,000 times a day –
and what else?

We control our own destiny more than we think.

Yes, we choose our own directions – and yes, we drive ourselves at our own pace. It’s by our own efforts, or not at all.

But pretty well none of it is possible without hands. They are the do-ers that make things happen – that turn ideas into reality.

Amazing things, really. They do everything, go everywhere.

And that’s the problem.

Dangerous touches

Because the things they touch are seldom pure. Like everything else in this world, they’re covered in bacteria – some good, some bad. Many transferred on contact to our fingertips or palms.

Germs, right? Invisible microorganisms that can make you very ill or kill you. Impossible to avoid and a continual mission to get rid of. Which effectively means you’re at hazard all of the time.

Well, sort of.

World’s smallest killers

To a virus or bacteria that’s barely a thousandth of a micron across, your hand is an armour-plated tank. Tough and chemically hostile, it offers no way in to the body – an impenetrable no-go barrier to infecting a meal-ticket host.

Ain’t nothing to do with a surface like that except hang on. Which plenty of germs do – upwards of three million of them, around us like an aura every day.

Smart move.

Because it’s what our hands do next that matters.

Touching other stuff.

Beware fomites

Keyboard, phone, door-handle, document, money, clothing, loo seat, poo, wee, Coke bottle, chips, tomato sauce – these are all what are called “fomites”, made famous by Kate Winslet’s character Dr. Erin Mears in the movie Contagion.

Fomites are substances or objects that can transfer germs – your handbag, keys, scarf, watch-strap – triggering a whole roller-coaster ride of infection – where germs get to meet other germs, and gang up together for fun, fun, fun.

Spot the missing touch?

You got it. Your face. Otherwise known as germ heaven. The guaranteed way in for infection – through your mouth, up your nose, in the sensitive bits round your eyes, even your ears.

And without thinking of it, we touch our faces two or three  times a minute – that’s up to three thousand times a day! Three thousand germ-entry opportunities every day of your life.

The missing obsession

Which kind of emphasises the other missing touch – soap and water.

Most of the time we’re so full of ourselves rushing around, we don’t really think of washing hands. Yet if you think of the fomites we encounter doing that, we’re at hazard all the time.

Yes, it is possible to get some protection. Wash everything – tables, plates, knives, forks. Disinfect everything – loos, wash basins, kitchen sinks. All the schlep of daily life.

It’s even possible to sterilise all around us. A dose of UV radiation or misting up the place with hydrogen peroxide will clobber all viruses and bacteria down to nothing – even killers like bubonic plague and Ebola.

But it’s all kind of useless if we traipse into our specially sterilised room and shake hands for an interview straight after a nervous but necessary dash to the WC.

At your peril

Washed your hands?

Er, yes, but that quick rinse under the tap doesn’t crack it. And using the pull-down towel doesn’t help. When the roll is finished, everybody’s germs all wind up on the same piece of cotton.

Ask any medic, and they’ll tell you that a proper scrub-up to get rid of germs takes at least five minutes. And that’s a schlep too – seriously hot water, scouring underneath and scrubbing your nails, getting right down between your fingers – then disposable towels or an air dryer.

And it all needs to be done again as soon as you touch something!

So the Hand Hygiene brigade are not so paranoid after all. This is the flu season, with all kinds of other nasties lurking out there as well – norovirus, salmonella, campylobacter. You can blame other circumstances just so far, but you’ve got to come to the party as well.

Just like everything in life, isn’t it? Keep your hands clean, or it will come back to bite you.

Because it’s pretty silly to die for something that isn’t necessary.

Originally posted 2014-12-02 14:18:57.

Deadlier than Ebola et al – Panic

Panick Woman
Relax,
you’ll only catch it
if you’re careless

Dread diseases are all around. But you don’t see people dropping like flies, do you?

Headlines scream and a shiver goes down your spine. There’s a case of avian flu up in Yorkshire – 6,000 poor ducks getting the chop. H5N1 possibly, or H7N9. Maybe B747 or A380 – the numbers are meaningless, but not the implication.

We’re all going to die.

Or not.

Isolated outbreaks

Because that one case is already taken care of. Yes, there’s turkey farms all round, but don’t worry – we’ll all be safe for Christmas. At least, that’s the story.

But just to set your mind at rest, the Dutch have had a case too. H5N8, this time – not R2D2. And wait for it, this month there’s further cases in Germany, China, Japan and South Korea.

What about Ebola? Don’t people know there’s an epidemic on?

Well, no – and that’s not surprising.

Safe in the West

Most of us lead a reasonably healthy lifestyle – well protected by tight industry standards. If there’s anything in the food chain that threatens us, it’s usually such an exception no wonder the headlines scream.

A tarantula in a bunch of bananas from Waitrose. And don’t forget how obsessed we are about sell-by dates. The supermarkets are too – but they could get fined or even lose their licence – so let’s keep our perception firmly fixed on “paranoid”.

Because there’s no doubt about it, Ebola’s going to be here on the next flight from Sierra Leone. And that sore throat we’ve got is not going to shift with a quick swig of Histalix.

Yup, it’s panic stations de luxe. And way more contagious than any disease.

Already we’ve had flight crews lock passengers in the loo because of vomiting. Forget flight nerves or air turbulence. Or why there’s the bag that’s found in every seat pocket. Lock ’em up and call the health services, fumigate the place now!

Then there’s that bloke in the Underground. Looks a bit leery – sweating, eyes rolling round his head, unsteady on his feet. And the smell, strong and bitter, like liquorice and disinfectant. He must have come from some hospital. Just get out at the next station and wash your hands ASAP.

Ah!

Common sense by default

At least we’re washing our hands!

If there’s one good thing about Ebola, it’s that we won’t come down with norovirus because we skip washing hands after going to the loo. The pushy ones are even telling us to do it and getting away with it. “Hey, wash your hands. You don’t want to come down with Ebola, do you?”

More ignorance and paranoia, right there.

Pretty well any kind of contact is hazardous. Difficult to achieve though, with the nearest case approximately 3,000 miles away. Doesn’t stop us going crazy though, does it?

Seen the rubber-neckers veering away from crime scene investigators in their CSI outfits yet? Some poor dear had her bag snatched and fell. Put everyone in a tizz.

Don’t be so surprised, check the mind-set.

Because it’s not a crime scene at all, is it? The authorities are covering something up. That’s why the cops are there, moving people on. Nothing to see here? The whole street will be down with it before the end of the day.

Uh, huh.

Like the poster says, “Keep Calm & Carry On.”

The Six O’Clock News is not a horror show, it’s just the six o’clock news. And about the only thing that’s going to impact any of us is that petrol is going up – again.

Take two tablets and call me in the morning…

Time to get a grip.

And be thankful that the health professionals who look after us – especially the much-maligned NHS – are more than capable of protecting us, even if an outbreak does happen within our shores.

They can’t protect us from ourselves though.

But hey, this paracetamol stuff is amazing.

Originally posted 2014-11-17 13:38:36.