"You can't see, smell or feel bacteria", Rottenberg said.
Participants in the study, which was done in North Carolina, America, were assigned to six specially-designed test kitchens where they had to prepare turkey burgers and salads while being monitored closely. "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".
These poor handwashing practices led to cross-contamination, the study found.
Since CDC data shows around 128,000 Americans get hospitalised due to foodborne illnesses every year, we're guessing the USDA is already producing their next instructional video.
According to the paper, very few of the participants rubbed their hands with soap for at least 20 seconds - deemed enough time to get the grime off - and nearly half didn't wet their hands with water pre-wash.
"Especially around holidays, we're gathering with friends and family, usually we know one person or a couple of people who might have an illness that puts them at a greater risk for food poisoning or food-borne illness", he said; "so, keeping those things in mind, knowing the four steps to food safety". The study found other common risky habits when preparing food, including failure to use a meat thermometer to make sure that the food has reached a safe temperature. About half of the participants watched a three-minute video before preparing food.
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Accordingly, almost half of the spice containers used by study participants in the control group (who did not watch the thermometer video) were contaminated.
"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. It was about how to use a cooking thermometer correctly - the type you sink into a turkey.
The USDA also urges that people need to wash their hands with soap and water after handling any raw meat, eggs, and or poultry. To time yourself, scrub for as long as it takes to hum the song "Happy Birthday" two times.
The percentage is appalling: 97 percent of people failed to properly clean their hands in the collaborative study by the USDA, RTI International and N.C. State University.
People are failing at basic measures, not washing their hands for 20 seconds as recommended, and not drying their hands with clean towels, the study says.
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