The U.S. Department of Agriculture has conducted a new study that reveals only 97 percent of consumers are not properly washing their hands. The study notes that the most common mistake made is not washing their hands long enough.

Please Wash Your Hands

The USDA teamed up with the nonprofit firm RTI International and North Carolina State University to conduct the study. The researchers of the study examined over 300 people and placed them in test kitchens that were based in North Carolina. The scientists observed the participants through cameras as they created several dishes, including turkey burgers and chef's salads.

After a thorough observation, the researchers found that only 3 percent followed the necessary steps to properly wash their hands. The researchers found that one mistake most people make is not washing with soap and water for the required 20 seconds. Other mistakes spotted were people's failure to get their hands wet and not use soap at all.

The study also showed that the participants did not use a towel to dry their hands and 34 percent of the volunteers did not use a thermometer to check the temperature of their burgers.

"You can't see, smell or feel bacteria. 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," acting deputy Undersecretary for Food Safety at the USDA, Carmen Rottenberg, stated.

The researchers from the study also discovered the participants had a difficult time keeping items in the kitchen free from contamination. About 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.

Health Risks

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states that 48 million Americans are sickened by a foodborne illness and of those who become affected, 128,000 become hospitalized and 3,000 die from it.

The CDC warns that those who are at a higher risk of a foodborne illness include children, older adults, and those with a weaker immune system. The USDA stressed that people use a food thermometer and properly cook their meat to its recommended safe internal temperatures.

The USDA also urges that people need to wash their hands with soap and water after handling any raw meat, eggs, and or poultry. The department also suggests people wash their hands for the full 20 seconds and dry them clean with a towel immediately after.

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