Hum Happy Birthday twice for healthy hands Global Handwashing Day

Media release: 15 OCTOBER 2015

On Global Handwashing Day the Food Safety Information Council has recommended Australians take the time to wash their hands for the time it takes them to hum ‘Happy Birthday’ twice.

Food Safety Information Council Chair, Rachelle Williams, said there was evidence that Australians did know how to wash their hands correctly as the Council’s telephone surveys consistently showed that 98% of respondents recognised that you should wash your hands using soap and dry thoroughly on a clean towel.

‘But when we observe people actually washing their hands our most recent study showed 29% of men and 8% of women didn’t wash their hands at all after using the bathroom in the food hall of a shopping centre,’ Ms Williams said.

‘Correct hand washing is an important public health issue as you might find that you and your family may, not only get less food poisoning, but also catch fewer viral diseases like norovirus, colds and flu.

‘We need to take the time to wash our hands with soap and running water and to dry thoroughly. We recommend humming the ‘Happy Birthday’ song through twice to make sure you’re washing for long enough,’ Ms Williams concluded.

The Food Safety Information Council has five tips for washing your hands correctly:

  1. Wet your hands and rub together well to build up a good lather with soap as the suds
  2. Don’t forget to wash between your fingers and under your nails – you might have to use a nail brush.
  3. Rinse well under running water to help to carry bacteria and viruses away.
  4. Dry your hands thoroughly on a clean towel. Touching surfaces with moist hands encourages the contamination from the surface to your hands.
  5. Always wash and dry your hands before touching or eating food, after touching raw meat, fish or chicken, using the toilet, changing nappies, blowing your nose or touching a pet.

See a demonstration on how to wash your hands correctly

Further information:


Media contact:

Lydia Buchtmann, Food Safety Information Council, 0407 626 688 or