The in-use efficacy of a selected range of germicidal hand wash agents was tested in a meat processing plant. The hand washes included non-germicidal soaps and germicidal agents containing chlorhexidine, iodophor and Irgasan DP 300 as active ingredients. A laboratory study was done under controlled conditions with standardized procedures for hand washing; in the meat plant, “normal” (unstandardized) hand wash procedures were followed. Levels of contamination on hands varied markedly between work units. Only in the meat cutting area could a significant difference be attributed to hand wash agents against transient-type bacteria on workers' hands. The hand wash agent with 4% chlorhexidine gluconate, the iodophor with 0.75% available iodine and the gel containing 0.3% Irgasan DP 300 were the only products that gave a significantly better reduction of transient bacteria than non-germicidal soap. Transient bacteria were detected on hands after washing, indicating that under the in-use conditions in the meat processing plant, hand wash techniques did not remove all of these bacteria from hands. The plant workers generally indicated a dislike for the iodophor products as hand germicides.

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