MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Donald Schaffner, PhD
Extension Specialist in Food Science and Distinguished Professor
MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study?
Response: We been interested in handwashing and cross-contamination research for more than 15 years. About 10 years after I started as a faculty member I was approached about doing research in this area. The first paper republished has turned into my most highly cited paper. I think it was mostly a matter of being in the right place at the right time, with the right idea.
This latest bit of research came out of my ongoing participation in the Conference for Food Protection. This is an unusual meeting, and unlike any other scientific conference. It’s a group of industry scientists, government regulators, and academics would get together every two years to help the FDA Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition update a document called the Model Food Code. The code has no regulatory standing, but it is used by state health agencies as the basis for state food codes that regulate restaurants, supermarkets, and other food service establishments.
There are several provisions in the code that we wanted to try to impact with our research. The code currently states that hands must be washed in warm water. The plumbing section of the code also states that hand wash sinks must be capable of dispensing water at 100°F. We wanted to explore whether there was any scientific basis statements.
In some recent survey-based research, graduate student that is also the first author on this manuscript surveyed the Internet for the kind of advice was offered on handwashing posters that provide advice on how to wash your hands. He found that the recommendations varied widely including recommendations on how long to wash your hands.