Shocking results of hand hygiene study
The results of the study by Indian Public Health Association have come as a shocker to people who eat out as well as doctors and health department officials.
Researchers found E. coli on the hands of nearly 11.2%of the people who handle food in five star hotels. In smaller restaurants, 47% of chefs and waiters had the bacterium, which can cause serious food poisoning, on their hands.
The figure rises to 84.7% in roadside eateries. Researchers found amoebic cysts on the hands of 11.2% of waiters in roadside eateries. These cysts can cause forms of amoebiasis, from dysentery to amoebic liver abscess, the third most common cause of death (after schistosomiasis and malaria ) from parasitic infections.
What makes eating at roadside kiosks more dangerous is that these units do not follow hygienic practices and have unclean cooking practices. Eateries are often located near open drains or garbage bins. People in the city are also extremely vulnerable to food poisoning.
It is an extremely scary situation, said IPHA state president Dr S Elango, who led the study. “We did not know these dangers existed before the study,” he said. “Food inspectors often test food quality but rarely check health and hygiene of people who handle food.” The situation could be even worse, he said. “We don’t know if there are other, more serious health risks because our study covered a limited number of disease causing micro-organisms,” he said.
Dr Elango surveyed 250 restaurants and eateries over six months and checked the hands of 1,000 people who handled food. The subjects’ hands were dipped in distilled water that was then tested in labs. The tests showed that the water contained E. coli and several other dangerous micro-organisms.