10 Most Overlooked Food Safety Guidelines

Wash Your Hands Properly
To get rid of germs, you should wash your hands for at least 20 seconds. lofilolo/iStock/Thinkstock

This might seem like the most obvious food-safety practice. But as we explained in the introduction, most people don't bother to do it. And the minority that does wash doesn't do it properly – which might be even more dangerous, because they think they're protecting themselves and their families, when they aren't [source: Food Safety News].

Fortunately, the CDC has developed a detailed set of instructions for exactly how to wash your hands, which is based upon scientific studies. Here are the steps:

  1. Wet your hands with clean, running water – the temperature isn't important – and then turn off the tap.
  2. Apply soap, which lifts the microbes from your skin, and rub your hands together to create a lather. Be sure to lather the backs of your hands, your fingers, and under your nails.
  3. Do it for at least 20 seconds – as long as it takes to hum the "Happy Birthday" song twice.
  4. Rinse well and dry your hands with a clean towel.