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Handwashing: The Why, When and How

It isn't often that you see a simple business tool that is nearly perfect for its job, but that's the feeling you get when you have your first viewing of Handwashing for Life: The Why, the When and the How.

From an instructional design point of view, it is especially impressive when compared to many other video treatments of the same subject. For practical impact and usefulness, this is a training tool that deserves a place in the office and training regimens of every foodservice manager.

Packaged in three segments, each only 90 seconds long, the video is long on impact and short on words. It has no words at all, in fact, and instead focuses on communicating a universal message to those with even short attention spans or language barriers. Instead, a wellmatched soundtrack uses tempo and sound to give additional emphasis to key moments in the presentation.

The most powerful segment is the first, The Why, in which a sensitive subject—oral-fecal cross contamination—is treated in a visually clear but un-embarrassing way. There are no stereotypes here: the culprit is someone who would otherwise appear to be an ideal kitchen employee. He appears well groomed, upbeat and as a reliable "team player" on the staff—just the kind of person-you'd least expect to be a problem.

The visual impact comes from dramatic, special "glowing" effects, first used to indicate hands contaminated by Norwalk virus, and then to show how quickly contamination can spread, from one employee to another, from utensils to food, and eventually directly to a finished plate served to a young child in a restaurant.

The motivational message doesn't end there, and makes a final point by showing the still unknowing employee punching out at the end of his shift and arriving home (with still-glowing hands) to hug a welcoming child on his own front porch.

Let me say it again: this video sends a strong message that is very hard to ignore. Also, it is an easy one to use in kicking off the kind of continuing foodsafety reminder sessions that research shows are important to maintaining best practices at foodservice work sites. Another good point is that it also makes clear the fact that kitchen gloves provide no protection once cross contaminationhas entered the basic food handling system.

The two other 90 second spots focus on when hand washing is required and how to do it properly. Both are addressed in visually simple and practical terms. The Why emphasizes the most common kitchen cross-contamination situations, with different colored "glows" indicating different kinds of contaminating agents. The How simply illustrates what hands should be doing during the 20 or so seconds in which they are washed.

Developed by the Handwashing Leadership Forum, a partnership of companies with an interest in promoting food safety and better kitchen practices, the video is available in VHS, DVD and CD-ROM formats, making it suitable for use in almost any training environment.

And while the video's high-impact message would be enough by itself, it is accompanied by a series of additional tools the trainer can use to underscore the message further. You can print these from The Handwashing Leadership Forum's website.

Among them: simple tips for using the video in training situations; one-page quizzes and training records to be used to emphasize key points; "pledge sheets" training class members can sign to show their commitment to food safety and various other support materials.

For ordering information, or to download a low resolution Quicktime demo version of the video, check the website:

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