Hand and Surface Washing Protocols – Food Allergies vs Coronavirus
I am not a medical practitioner. Check with your doctor for specific medical advice.
We are facing a global crisis with the Coronavirus at our doorstep. Those dealing with food allergies need to take notice and prepare early. We have special dietary needs and also many of us have co-existing conditions that may place us in the high-risk category.
This is an age of information overload with twenty-four hour access to so many media outlets. This is a time when tried and true advice is extremely important to save time and reduce anxiety. My goal is to be your guide and provide support, guidance, resources and fun. Yes, we will all need a daily dose of fun. We need to address the physical and emotional components of dealing with the combination of food allergies and Coronavirus.
In this blog post, I am addressing one of the most important actions to keep safe from both food allergens and the Coronavirus. Handwashing. Yes, we all learned this as young children but there are differences between dealing with allergens or the virus.
Hand washing following the Center for Disease Control (CDC) Protocols with warm soapy water is one of the top preventive measures for both dealing with the presence of food allergens and the Coronavirus.
A key difference between cleaning your hands for Food Allergens and the Coronavirus is the use of antibacterial soaps and gels. Antibacterial gels (regardless of alcohol content) alone will not work for completely removing food allergens from your hands.
For the Coronavirus, the CDC states on its website, “that handwashing with warm soapy water is best but “If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol”.
It is important to note, that liquid soaps are best as opposed to bar soaps which may have allergens or viruses left on them from previous uses.
Here is the breakdown of the key elements for handwashing from the CDC:
- Rub your hands together vigorously with soap for at least 20 seconds. Try singing ‘Happy Birthday’ or ‘The Alphabet Song’.
- Keep your hands pointing down, so dirty water won’t run down your elbows or onto your clothing.
- Scrub every part of your hand, including the back of your hands, in-between your finger and thumbs.
- Longer finger nails can harbor more bacteria than shorter nails.
- Focus on your fingertips not just your palms.
- Don’t touch the faucet or sink. That will only contaminate your skin. Use a paper towel to shut off the water and then throw it away. If in a public bathroom you may want to use a paper towel to open the door.
- Fully dry your hands. Wet hands spread germs easier.
Food Allergy Handwashing Key Points:
- The top recommendation is to wash your hands with warm soapy water for at least 20 seconds following the handwashing protocol outlined above.
- Hand sanitizing get in not enough to eliminate allergens by itself.
- The Food Allergy and Anaphylaxis Team (FAACT) states “Antibacterial soaps have been found to leave residues of allergens on hands and surfaces. It is not recommended to use just antibacterial soaps when trying to eliminate allergens from your hands or environmental surfaces.”
- FAACT also states “Hand Sanitizing gel is not sufficient to remove allergens. This is important in the healthcare setting, as most healthcare facilities have moved to near-exclusive use of hand sanitizing gels for infectious purposes. It is not recommended to use just antibacterial soaps when trying to eliminate allergens from your hands or environmental surfaces.”
Corona Virus Handwashing Keys Points:
The Center for Disease Control (CDC) recommends:
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after being out in public, going to the bathroom; before eating; and after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing. Always wash hands with soap and water especially if hands are visibly dirty.
- If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.
- Please keep hand sanitizers in a safe place as it is a hazard if ingested especially in young children.
*Now that you have clean hands, avoid touching your face. This will reduce both the risk of transmission of the Coronavirus and exposure to potential food allergens.
Food Allergy Cross-Contact & Coronavirus Surface Cleaning Keys:
Good News! You can follow the same protocols for both Food Allergens and the Coronavirus for Surface Cleaning!
- When cleaning surfaces (such as desks, counters, tables, airline seats or tray tables, etc.), use a wipe that contains a commercial detergent or apply a spray-on detergent and vigorously wipe the area.
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe.
- Run pots, pans, an utensils through a normal dishwasher cycle or wash them by hand with hot, soapy water and scrub the surfaces thoroughly. Rinse and dry thoroughly with a clean towel.
Special Notes for Cross-Contact issues for Food Allergens:
- In a 2004 study, dish soap did not remove peanut allergen.
- Be aware that if you use parchment paper or a liner in your pans it will make clean up easier but may not prevent oils that could be potential allergens from leaking through onto your pan.
- Use a sponge, scouring pad, or dish rag that has not come into contact with the allergen. Avoid just wiping down a knife or common utensil with a rag after touching an allergen (a common practice at sandwich shops).
Special Notes for Surface Cleaning and the Coronavirus:
The Environmental Protection Agency has put out a list of disinfectants that consumers can use to protect themselves against the Coronavirus. The most commonly found are:
- Clorox Multi Surface Cleaner + Bleach
- Clorox Disinfecting Wipes
- Clorox Commercial Solutions® Clorox® Disinfecting Spray
- Lysol brand Heavy-Duty Cleaner Disinfectant Concentrate
- Lysol Disinfectant Max Cover Mist
- Lysol brand Clean & Fresh Multi-Surface Cleaner
- Purell Professional Surface Disinfectant Wipes
- Sani-Prime Germicidal Spray
1. Let’s hear it! When washing your hands pick a song, poem or make up your own rap to last 20 seconds.
2. About Face! It is important to not touch your face and it often a hard habit to break. Make a game out of it. If you see someone touch their face then they either have to do something silly or you keep tally and at the end of the day a prize or privilege is given to the winner for the day. Yes, you can give honorable mentions to those who came in after the 1st place winner. The goal is to create a healthier habit for everyone in the household and have some fun at the same time!
Now is the time to become educated and prepare for all eventualities.
We have heard from many of you and your concerns and questions. We at Food Allergy Wizards want you to know you are not alone and we are here to be by your side during this critical time.
We have created a special monthly program with unbelievable content for all ages and nationalities! I am so excited about this unique and amazing community. We will provide you with:
- A Private Facebook Community for support,
- Weekly specialized topics dealing with the many aspects of the Coronavirus with Q&A’s,
- Recipes & Cook Live with Me segments
- Up to Date Resources
- Highlighted Stories from Our Members and
- Special Offerings for our Young Wizards
This is our gift to you to offer all of this for just $5.00 for the month! Yes, less than the cost of one of those super large fancy drinks!
We want to be there for our community and there is high probability that we will have more time at home. We can optimize this time and see it as an opportunity to learn more and come together adding in a sprinkle of fun!
Click here to learn more and gain access to this amazing group
I look forward to seeing you in our group!
Links for You:
For detailed information on Handwashing visit the CDC website at https://www.cdc.gov/handwashing/ .
The CDC main page on the Coronavirus is: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html
For information on dealing with cross-contact and food allergens go to FAACT: https://www.foodallergyawareness.org/food-allergy-and-anaphylaxis/cross-contact/cross-contact/