One in three catering staff don't wash their hands after visiting the lavatory.
This is just one of the results of a major survey conducted by The Food Standards Agency (FSA), which it claims is the largest ever nationwide survey of workers in the catering industry.
It showed that over a third of staff (39 per cent) are neglecting to wash their hands after visits to the lavatory while at work and that half of those interviewed (53 per cent) did not appear to wash their hands before preparing food.
The survey was conducted among 1,000 workers and managers in small independent catering businesses, with just over half (55 per cent) in operation for under two years and two thirds (70 per cent) employing up to four full time employees. Less than two thirds (59 per cent) of workers questioned had a certificate in basic food hygiene and only three per cent of catering managers said retaining skilled, trained staff was important to their business. Although only 32 per cent believed good food hygiene practices were important to their business, 42 per cent listed these practices as a key factor in the success of their business. A total of 64 per cent said there was a general understanding among all workers that they should wash their hands, while only five per cent of catering workers and managers recognised the need of personal hygiene as something specific to take care of in the workplace.
To encourage more training in personal hygiene, the FSA has produced "Bacteria Bites Business", a free hygiene video, which it is distributing to 300,000 catering businesses. Graphic and entertaining, the film highlights the crucial four Cs - Cleanliness, Cross Contamination, Chilling and Cooking.
The eight minute film drives home simple straightforward messages such as "washing your hands before and after visits to the lavatory" and pinpoints daily actions which are vital to ensuring food safety in the kitchen.
The film can be used as a practical tool for managers training staff in basic food hygiene and is also available free to catering colleges, local authorities and environmental health officers.