October 15 is Global Handwashing Day

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, Global Handwashing Day is more important than ever.
October 12, 2020

On October 15, 2020, the world will celebrate Global Handwashing Day — a day founded by the Global Handwashing Partnership (GHP) in order to promote awareness and understanding about the importance of hand washing with soap. The theme for this year’s Global Handwashing Day is “Hand Hygiene for All” and focuses on a global initiative to encourage everyone to improve their hand hygiene. This year’s theme illustrates that hand washing is more important now than ever as countries around the world grapple with the COVID-19 pandemic.

The GHP first launched Global Handwashing Day in 2008 as a way to spread the word about hand washing and the value of clean hands as an effective way to prevent diseases around the world. That first year saw 120 million children in more than 70 countries around the world wash their hands with soap. Since then, Global Handwashing Day continues to promote hand washing advocacy and awareness while also building sinks to provide access to hand washing facilities for all. One of the main goals of Global Handwashing Day is to create a culture of hand hygiene.

The importance of hand washing

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues around the world, proper hand hygiene has become an essential tactic to stop the spread of the coronavirus. The pandemic has highlighted just how important hand washing is in preventing disease transmission.

In a survey conducted by leading soap manufacturer Dial Canada, results show that Canadians have increased their hand washing significantly since the pandemic started. According to the results, only 13.8% of respondents washed their hands 10 times or more per day before the pandemic, but since the pandemic began 36.9% of respondents are now washing their hands 10 times or more per day.

Hand hygiene has always been an important part of health and safety protocols in food businesses, but the pandemic has made it even more essential in order to keep staff and customers safe. Food businesses are encouraged to provide ongoing training on hygiene protocols and the proper hand washing technique for all staff. Training on these topics is covered in the Canadian Institute of Food Safety’s Food Handler Certification Course.

Hand sanitizer or soap?

Since the beginning of the pandemic, there has been a marked increase in the use of hand sanitizer in food businesses by both customers and staff. It is important to acknowledge that hand sanitizer should only be used when proper hand washing cannot be done. Washing hands with warm water and soap is the most effective way to kill bacteria and harmful pathogens that may be on hands. With Global Handwashing Day around the corner, it is a good time for food businesses to continue to advocate for proper hand washing by all Food Handlers and anyone else that works within the food business.

Key facts about hand washing

In a fact sheet provided by the Global Handwashing Partnership, statistics on hand washing illustrate just how important hand hygiene is:

  • Hand washing can reduce diarrheal diseases by 30% — 48%.
  • Hand washing can reduce acute respiratory infections by 20%.
  • Hand washing can reduce the transmission of pathogens such as cholera, Ebola, shigellosis, SARS and hepatitis E.
  • Hand washing with soap destroys the outer membrane of the coronavirus and inactivates it.
  • One study found that regular hand washing with soap can reduce the likelihood of COVID-19 infection by 36%.

Resources for your food business

The Canadian Institute of Food Safety’s mission is to reduce food-borne illness in Canada through education, promotion and advocacy for better food safety. This involves training on proper hygiene protocols and techniques, along with providing helpful resources for food businesses to use. Check out these helpful hygiene resources for your food business: