Bad hand-washing habits are spreading risky bacteria, USDA warns

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"There were many, many times in the course of the study that people had the opportunity to wash their hands - almost 1,200 opportunities", Rottenberg told NBC News. The researchers of the study examined over 300 people and placed them in test kitchens that were based in North Carolina. All of the individuals were then sent into test kitchens outfitted with cameras and told to prepare turkey burgers and salads.

After observation, the researchers found that only 3 percent followed the necessary steps to properly wash their hands. Other mistakes that were spotted were people's failures to wet their hands and not using soap at all. Participants in a recent study failed at hand-washing 97 percent of the time, the United States Department of Agriculture found, often by not washing their hands for 20 full seconds or not drying their washed hands with a clean towel. "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". "As a mother of three young children, I am very familiar with the mad dash families go through to put dinner on the table", Carmen Rottenberg, the USDA's Acting Deputy Under Secretary for Food Safety, said in a news release.

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The researchers from the study also discovered the participants had a hard time keeping items in the kitchen free from contamination. 48 percent of the time, the volunteers contaminated spice containers that were used while they prepared the burgers and 11 percent of the time, the participants spread bacteria to the handles of the refrigerators. The researchers also observed that individuals only washed their hands after a possible cause of cross-contamination - such as handling raw meat - in about a third of instances.