Inadequate hand washing by food workers is an important contributing factor to foodborne disease outbreaks in retail food establishments (RFEs). We conducted a survey of RFEs to investigate the effect of hand washing training, availability of hand washing facilities, and the ability of the person in charge (PIC) to describe hand washing according to the Minnesota Food Code (food code) on workers' ability to demonstrate food code–compliant hand washing. Only 52% of the PICs could describe the hand washing procedure outlined in the food code, and only 48% of workers could demonstrate code-compliant hand washing. The most common problems observed were failure to wash for 20 s and failure to use a fingernail brush. There was a strong positive association between the PIC being a certified food manager and being able to describe the food code hand washing procedure (odds ratio [OR], 5.5; 95% confidence interval [CI], 2.2 to 13.7), and there was an even stronger association between the PIC being able to describe hand washing and workers being able to demonstrate code-compliant hand washing (OR, 15; 95% CI, 6 to 37). Significant associations were detected among correct hand washing demonstration, physical infrastructure for hand washing, and the hand washing training methods used by the establishment. However, the principal determinant of successful hand washing demonstration was the PIC's ability to describe proper hand washing procedure. These results suggest that improving hand washing practices among food workers will require interventions that address PIC knowledge of hand washing requirement and procedure and the development and implementation of effective hand washing training methods.

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