Keep those hands clean on the election trail – important health advice from the Food Safety Information Council (24 April 2019)


Media release

With much handshaking and baby kissing happening over the next few weeks, the Food Safety Information Council today released its hand hygiene advice to those on the election trail.

Council spokesperson, Lydia Buchtmann, said that the election period has coincided with cooler weather in the southern parts of Australia when viral infections such as norovirus and influenza become more common.

‘Regular handwashing is one of the best ways to stop these viruses spreading. Norovirus is a highly contagious virus that causes vomiting and diarrhoea and it’s not something you want on the campaign bus. If you don’t have access to handwashing facilities then alcohol sanitiser is also a good option but make sure you cover all surfaces of both hands before it dries.

‘Always wash your hands and dry thoroughly after going to the toilet or blowing your nose as well as before handling, preparing or eating food. Here are three tips on how to wash your hands correctly:

  1. Wet your hands and rub together well to build up a good lather with soap as the suds help to loosen the bugs. Do this for at least 20 seconds and don’t forget to wash between your fingers and under your nails.
  2. Rinse well under running water to wash away the bugs from your hands
  3. Dry your hands thoroughly on a clean towel for at least 20 seconds – a hand dryer may take a little longer.

‘We normally suggest you judge the length of 20 seconds by singing ‘Happy Birthday to you…’ through twice but perhaps ‘Lucky Election Day to me…’ could be more appropriate.

‘The Food Safety Information Council is a health promotion charity and we have been advising the community (including politicians) about food safety for over 20 years. We always had bi-partisan support for our work in reducing the 4.1 million cases of food poisoning in Australia each year but in 2014 the current government withdrew our administrative funding due to ‘financial constraints’.

‘While we have had positive discussions with the office of current Minister, Bridget McKenzie, restoration of funding didn’t occur before the election was called. The Labor Shadow Assistant Minister was supportive of our cause in a recent meeting. We are seeking a commitment from both sides of politics to continue to fund our important work, especially with challenges such as increased rates of Salmonella and Campylobacter infections in Australia and a series of major food poisoning incidents over the past 12 months,’ Ms Buchtmann concluded.

The Food Safety Information Council is a health promotion charity and Australia’s leading disseminator of consumer-targeted food safety information. The Council aims to address the estimated 4.1 million cases of food poisoning in Australia each year that result in 31,920 hospitalisations, 86 deaths and 1 million visits to doctors on average each year.

Media contact:

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


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