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Almost one in five Australians admit they don’t always wash their hands after using the toilet


Despite all the lessons of the global pandemic, almost one in five Australians admit they don’t always wash their hands after using the toilet.
Almost half admit that they also sometimes forget to lather up before eating.

The results of a national online survey by the Food Safety Information Council highlight relevant research that reveals more than 4.6 million cases of food poisoning across Australia each year.

“Good hand washing, using running water, soap and drying hands thoroughly is a key health message that people seem to be forgetting,” said council spokeswoman Lydia Buchtman.
Of more than 1,250 adults surveyed, 18 percent admitted they don’t always wash after using the toilet, and 47 percent don’t before eating or preparing food.
The difference was by gender: 84 percent of women surveyed said they always practiced hand hygiene when going to the bathroom, but only 80 percent of men gave the same assurance.
While 62 percent of women reported washing before touching food, only 52 percent of men could say the same.

Younger people are less likely to have clean hands when leaving the bathroom (74 percent for under-34s vs. 86 percent for over-50s) or before having a snack or meal (51 percent vs. 58 percent).

Meanwhile, the Australian National University’s Cost of Foodborne Illness report estimates 4.67 million cases of food poisoning occur in Australia each year, resulting in around 48,000 hospital admissions, 38 deaths and $2.1 billion in economic losses.
“Poor hand washing can be a major contributor to these numbers,” Ms Buchtman warned.
She urged everyone to download the council’s education pack and put up its posters at home, work or school.
The Food Safety Information Council recommends washing and drying hands before handling, preparing and eating food; after touching raw meat, fish, eggs or poultry; after visiting the toilet or visiting the children’s toilet or changing diapers; and after sneezing, coughing, touching pets, or gardening.
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says that paying attention to hand washing can reduce the number of people who get diarrhea by up to 40 percent.
Absenteeism among schoolchildren due to gastrointestinal illnesses could be reduced by 57 percent, and respiratory illnesses such as colds among the general population by more than 20 percent.

A survey by international bathroom manufacturer Bradley Corporation found that Americans washed their hands 10.5 times a day in the early stages of the COVID pandemic, but that number has since dropped by a quarter.


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