Relationship Advice: Wash Your Hands

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I don’t know what it is about me and my dates, but I’ve noticed a pattern of poor hygiene and food safety practices. One time I found out my date didn’t wash his hands after using the bathroom; his logic was that if he didn’t touch anything, it wasn’t necessary.

Another date took the time to make me a steak dinner … of course, I couldn’t eat it after he placed the cooked meat on an unwashed cutting board. He said “because the meat is still cooking, the heat disinfects the cutting board.” Uh, yeah? Call me a germaphobe, but good hygiene and food safety require that hands always be washed after using the bathroom, before handling food, and after touching raw meat.

Regardless whether you touch yourself or the toilet while using the bathroom, you should always wash your hands. From the toilet handle, sink, and even the doorknob, bathrooms are covered in bacteria, especially E. coli. Also take into account all of the surfaces you’re touching before using the bathroom—doors, computer keyboards, phone screens, pencils and pens, maybe even shaking someone’s hand. It’s just good practice to always wash your hands after going to the bathroom, not only to protect yourself, but also to protect others.

You should also wash your hands before handling food and after touching raw meat. But when it comes to raw meat, you also need to wash any surface that it has come into contact with, including kitchen utensils, knives, cutting boards, counters, plates, etc. Raw meat can contain E.coli, salmonella, listeria, and even parasites. And while the cooking process kills many harmful organisms, placing cooked meat (and really any food) on a contaminated surface re-contaminates it. If you aren’t sure if raw meat has come in contact with a surface, better be safe than sorry and wash it anyway.

When it comes to hygiene and food safety, the lack thereof can be a big deal-breaker in a relationship. Not only is it gross, but it can also put you and someone else at risk. The CDC estimates that one in six Americans, or 48 million people, get sick from foodborne illnesses each year. Of that number, 128,000 are hospitalized and 3,000 die. Good hygiene and food safety are the easiest way to prevent the spread of foodborne illnesses. Let’s not trivialize it to a minor annoyance. 

For more information about food safety, check out our infographic, Consumer’s Guide to Safe Food Handling.