Wash your hands! How many times have we heard or said this phrase before eating? Hand washing is an action that we perform very often, of great importance and in which we often invest less time and attention than is necessary and deserved. Now, more than ever, hand washing and hand disinfection with hand sanitizers is one of the most important measures to prevent the transmission of diseases. Our hands harbor a multitude of microorganisms. We can find up to 107 microorganisms per cm2 and more than 150 different types of bacteria. Most of these microorganisms are harmless to human health and live permanently with us. But exposure to other people, objects and environments means that, in our hands, temporarily, also arrive and live microorganisms harmful to us that can cause gastrointestinal or respiratory infections.
The food industry and all environments where there is food handling (vendors, restaurants, at home…) can be especially affected by poor hand hygiene. In these areas there is a high risk of cross-contamination between the handlers’ hands, food and utensils used. This contamination can occur in both directions. Organisms such as Norovirus, Campylobacter, Salmonella and Listeria are often found in raw foods that when handled can involve the transfer of these organisms from food to the work surfaces, utensils and handlers’ hands. On the other hand, the hands of manipulators can also be a source of other pathogens such as E.coli or Staphylococcus, which without good hygiene could reach the food.
Correct hand washing process
The presence of these organisms in food can lead to the appearance of foodborne diseases and food poisoning. Outbreaks caused by these diseases represent a major problem for society, with 246,571 cases of campylobacteriosis, 91,857 salmonellosis and 2,549 cases of listeriosis reported in humans in the EU during 2018 (EFSA, 20181).
In order to guarantee food safety, a series of measures are needed in the hygiene of industry and handlers. As well as a control of the critical points of the production process (according to HACCP). Some of these measures are the separation of raw and processed products, the sanitation of food contact surfaces and the staff hygiene. Personal hygiene measures are important to reduce the number of microorganisms in the hands and eliminate those harmful organisms. Therefore, it’s key to perform frequent and appropriate hand washing. For a correct hand washing four elements are required: water, soap, mechanical action (rubbing) and time. It is important to rub all parts of the hands, including the thumbs, between the fingers, the back of the hand and under the nails and do so for 20-30 seconds.
Soaps and sanitizers for hand disinfection
Itram Hygiene hand soaps
There are many soaps on the market, with different properties, different composition of surfactants; different perfumes, colors and dermoprotective content. Itram Hygiene offers three hand soaps, all of them free of perfumes, with neutral pH, non-irritating and ideal for use in dispensers in food industries, restaurants and kitchens. Dermitram and Dermogel are two hand soaps in gel format, while Dermofoam is in foam format, offering a very economical and effective cleaning.
In addition to the usual hand soaps, there are hand soaps with antiseptic effect, which reduces the number of microorganisms and inhibits their growth. These contain components of antimicrobial action such as lactic acid. Within this range of products we find Dermitram Bac from Itram Higiene, a perfume-free and colorless pH-neutral antiseptic soap specially designed for the food industry.
A final category in hand hygiene is the disinfection of these through the application of hydroalcoholic solutions. These solutions guarantee a greater reduction of microorganisms in the hands, thanks to their high concentration of alcohol, and allow to complement the cleaning of hands. The hydroalcoholic solutions are very easy to apply, which allows their application in many environments and moments. Hydroalcoholic solutions can be found in both gel and liquid format. They are applied directly to clean hands and then rubbed for 30 seconds and allowed to dry until completely evaporated. In the case of disinfection products, the effectiveness against microorganisms it’s important. It’s also important that the product has passed standard efficacy tests for one or more microorganisms, which is known as UNE: EN tests. This information must appear on the label.
In addition, it is important that the product is registered and authorized for sale by the country’s regulatory entity, in the case of Spain, the Spanish Agency for Medicines and Health Products (AEMPS).
Itram Hygiene hand disinfectants
Our company, Itram Hygiene takes special care with its products and for this reason its hand sanitizers have passed the corresponding efficacy tests and are registered in the AEMPS, thus guaranteeing their effectiveness, control during their manufacture and product quality. Itram Hygiene offers two hydroalcoholic products for healthy skin. Farmitram Bac, is a hydroalcoholic solution in liquid format that has bactericidal and yeasticidal efficacy and also against enveloped viruses (type of virus to which SARS-CoV2 belongs). FARMIGEL is a hydroalcoholic solution in gel format with bactericidal, virucidal, yeasticidal, tuberculocidal and fungicidal efficacy. In addition, both are hand sanitizers that contain skin protectants that reduce the risk of drying the hands skin.
At the present time, with the COVID-19 pandemic, hand hygiene has become even more relevant, and hand soaps and hydroalcoholic solutions or hand sanitizers represent one of the most important measures to stop the spread of the virus and protect ourselves. For this reason, hydroalcoholic solutions have become a great ally in this pandemic, being found in all industries, houses, supermarkets, shops and restaurants. It is very important to know that not all hydroalcoholic solutions found on the market have passed the efficacy tests (UNE: EN). Not all are registered by AEMPS. To find out if we are buying a product with the appropriate efficacy and quality guarantees we must look at the label to see if the product has the XXX-DES code and specifies the UNE: EN tests passed.
In conclusion, we are currently facing the COVID-19 pandemic situation and hand washing and disinfection is of vital importance to prevent the spread of the virus. A correct choice of product and its correct application are key factors in the fight against this virus.
1 European Food Safety Authority and European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (EFSA and ECDC), (2019). The European Union One Health 2018 Zoonoses Report. EFSA Journal (17): 12. https://doi.org/10.2903/j.efsa.2019.5926
– Mercè Berga, R&D Technical assistant