Hands Serve As Transfer Agents For Foodborne Pathogens

Hand Transfer Agent Blog Hand Transfer Agent Blog
Carine Nkemngong
Sr. Scientist-Food Safety Expert
Sep 22, 2022

Our hands serve as “transfer agents” for foodborne pathogens. The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimated that employee hands were the culprit in nine out of ten food borne disease outbreaks linked to food handlers in restaurants1. The CDC also reported that food handlers only wash their hands one out of three instances where they should wash their hands1. As a result, the relevance of hand hygiene education to food safety cannot be overemphasized as hand washing in the CDC’s words is a “healthy habit in the kitchen”2.


Hand washing should be strategically planned during key food preparation or handling stages when the risk of cross-contaminating food through hands is particularly high. Broadly, these stages can be grouped as the “before”, “during” and “after” stages. The “before” moments occur prior to food preparation, food consumption. “During” moments include but may not be limited to intermittent hand washing during food preparation. The “after” moments include hand washing after using the toilet, handling garbage, exchanging a handshake, touching your face or an environmental surface. While the list of examples is not comprehensive, hand washing before, during and after similar scenarios will significantly contribute to ensuring food safety.


Diversey’s mission is to protect and care for people through leading hygiene, infection prevention, and cleaning solutions. We develop and deliver innovative products, services, and technologies that save lives and protect our environment. Over the course of 95 years, the Diversey brand has become synonymous with product quality, service, and innovation. As a leading provider of hygiene solutions we help mitigate the negative impacts of hand hygiene on food safety by delivering complete food safety packages that include but are not limited to:

  • A range of antimicrobial and non-antimicrobial hand washes and sanitizers
  • Rigorous cleaning and sanitation programs delivered via a wide portfolio of chemical formulations that keep high touch food contact and nonfood contact surfaces clean and sanitized.
  • Providing effective and easy to use chemical solutions that help ensure compliance with proper hand washing practices
  • Training frontline employees on overall sanitation best practices; the relevance of hand hygiene inclusive
  • Developing customer assistance programs that increase the implementation of key food safety components as hand washing.



1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Food worker handwashing in restaurants. CDC. 2020. https://www.cdc.gov/nceh/ehs/ehsnet/plain_language/food-worker-handwashing-in-restaurants.html Accessed May 5, 2021.

2. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Food worker handwashing in restaurants. CDC. 2021. https://www.cdc.gov/handwashing/index.html Accessed May 5, 2021.