Many Aussies still not always washing hands after going to the toilet or before touching food – Global Handwashing Day 15 October 2022

In the lead up to Global Handwashing Day 15 October 2022 the Food Safety Information Council today released research that many Australians admit that they don’t always wash their hands after going to the toilet or before handling food.

Council Communication Director, Lydia Buchtmann, said good handwashing, using running water, soap and drying hands thoroughly is a basic public health message that people seem to be forgetting. The research found that 18% of Australians say they don’t always wash their hands after going to the toilet and 47% admit they don’t always wash before touching food.

‘Food Standards Australia New Zealand has recently released a report on the Annual Cost of Foodborne Disease in Australia by the Australian National University which found there are an estimated 4.67 million cases of food poisoning in Australia each year that result in 47,900 hospitalisations, 38 deaths and cost the economy $2.1 billion. Poor handwashing could be a major contribution to these figures,’ Ms Buchtmann said.

‘The research shows gender differences as men were less likely than women to always wash their hands after going to the toilet (80% of men versus 84% of women) and before touching food (52% of men versus 62% of women). Young people were less likely than older age groups to always wash their hands after going to the toilet (74% under 34 years versus 86% over 50 years) and before touching food (51% under 34 versus 58% over 50). Poor handwashing knowledge among young people is also a concern as they often become professional food handlers.

‘The Food Safety Information Council’s advice is to always wash and dry your hands:
• before handling, preparing and eating food
• after touching raw meat, fish, shell eggs or poultry
• after using the toilet, attending to children’s (or others’) toileting and changing nappies
• after blowing your nose
• after touching a pet
• after gardening

‘Follow these 4 simple tips for hand washing correctly:
1. Wet your hands and rub them together well to build up a good lather with soap for at least 20 seconds and don’t forget to wash between your fingers and under your nails. You might have to use a nail brush.
2. Rinse well under running water to remove the bugs from your hands.
3. Dry your hands thoroughly on a clean towel for at least 20 seconds. Touching surfaces with moist hands encourages bugs to spread from the surface to your hands.
4. If no running water is available use alcohol gel.

‘We have an education package including a video that can be downloaded from our website here and we encourage people to watch the video and to put up the posters at home, in their workplace, or at school.

The Food Safety Information Council would like to thank their members OnSolution and Accord Australasia who made this research and videos possible through charitable donations. We’d also like to thank the students and staff at St Aloysius College in Adelaide for their assistance in making the Glitterbug video.

Accord Australasia is the peak national industry association representing manufacturers and suppliers of hygiene, personal care and specialty products, their raw materials suppliers and service providers. Their industry’s products are used every day across the nation in homes, public places, commercial premises, institutions, industry and farms.

The research was conducted nationally online over the period August 25-30, 2022, among a sample of 1254 people aged 18 years and over. To reflect the overall population distribution, results were post-weighted to Australian Bureau of Statistics data (Census 2016) on age, gender, area and highest level of education completed.

Media contacts:
Lydia Buchtmann, Food Safety Information Council, 0407 626 688 or

Craig Brock, Accord, 0422 363 646