A study from the U.S. Department of Agriculture found participants failed to properly wash their hands 97 percent of the time when preparing food, which could lead to illness.
Ahead of Fourth of July grilling, the U.S. Department of Agriculture is offering a reminder to wash our hands.
A study conducted by USDA found consumers fail to correctly wash their hands 97% of the time, with the most common mistake being not washing hands long enough.
The observational study, conducted in partnership with nonprofit firm RTI International and North Carolina State University, involved placing 383 participants in test kitchens based in North Carolina and monitoring them through cameras as they cooked dishes including turkey burgers and a chef’s salad.
The study revealed only 3% of participants followed all the necessary steps to properly wash their hands.
“You can’t see, smell or feel bacteria,” said Carmen Rottenberg, acting deputy under secretary for food safety at the USDA. “By simply washing your hands properly, you can protect your family and prevent that bacteria from contaminating your food and key areas in your kitchen.”
The most common handwashing mistake? Not washing with soap and water for the minimum 20 seconds. Other bad behaviors included not getting hands wet or failing to use soap.
The study also found participants struggled at keeping items in the kitchen free from contamination. For example, 48 percent of the time, participants contaminated spice containers used while preparing burgers.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 48 million Americans get sick from foodborne illnesses each year, including about 128,000 hospitalizations and 3,000 deaths.