|Instant Hand Sanitizers (Update)
When this article was written in 2003, hand sanitizers were used in
kitchens and hospitals and nowhere else. And not very often then
or there. I've used the stuff for years. A weird habit for a non-hypochrondriac.
Ah, but now scroll forward to 2009, the flu season and H1N1. Bottles
of hand sanitizers are to be found on every counter from supermarkets to
flower stores. Sales of the stuff are through the roof.
We have, of late, spent a lot of time at the National Institute of Health
(NIH) in Washington DC. At the door frame of every room there is a racked
bottle of hand sanitizer. At other clinics, the stuff is ever more present
than a couple of years ago.
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, hand
washing is the single most important means of preventing the spread of
infection. Food inspectors spend a lot of time assessing the effectiveness
of kitchen staff hand hygiene practices because data show that a very high
percentage of foodborne illnesses are hand transmitted. They also
know that properly washed hands are as germ free as any other ‘tools’ in
But keeping hands clean is difficult. Cooks know to wash their
hands before leaving the bathroom and also are trained to wash-up between
tasks. Easier said than enforced, however. How many times have
you worked with food in the kitchen, then went off to change the channel
on the TV, do something for the baby or go down to the pantry to get a
box of Japanese bread crumbs, then return to the task at hand in the kitchen
without washing up again? The problem is time and availability.
another hand wash media out there that you should consider adding to your
daily routine. Instant hand sanitizers. They are nothing more complicated
than ethyl alcohol in a squeeze bottle—a big one on the counter, a little
one in your pocket, chef's toolbox, car glove compartment, purse, backpack,
wherever. It solves the time and availability problem with flying
colors since it's ready-at-hand and takes five seconds to use. This
stuff is available in all drugstores and supermarkets. Purell is
market leader with some soap manufacturers offering products as well. We
now favor 3M's Avagard D which NIH uses by the truck load. Maybe
that's why we can't find it the drug stores. Google or Amazon it
and buy it online. It's pricey.
Here is how it works: Hand sanitizer fluid is 62% ethyl alcohol
and added moisturizers. You squirt a quarter size dollop in the palm
of the hand and wash thoroughly with it. Purell claims that, before
it completely evaporates, the stuff kills 99.9% of the germs that may cause
illness. It kills good ones too, but so does soap and water.
(A fringe of the wellness-hypochondriacs has a problem with that.
But scientists state that their concern is misdirected in that ethyl alcohol
is not among the anti-bacterial products that remain on the hands with
theoretical adverse affect.) Ethyl alcohol had been used for a 100
years. Alcohol-based hand sanitizers have been around in one form
or another for 15 years. I'm never without it.
Let's hope that, with the passing of the flu season, folks will continue
to use hand sanitizers.
Try it, you'll like it.
Its refreshing too.