"Clean Hands Across America" Campaign Aims to Prevent Illness; NSF International Launches Scrub Club for Children

ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- NSF International (NSF) today unveiled its new Clean Hands Across America campaign, a national initiative to promote handwashing as a simple yet highly effective way to prevent the spread of infectious diseases and food-borne illnesses. The public health campaign kicks off during National Handwashing Week, December 7-13, 2003, just in time to help counter the cold and flu season.

Clean Hands Across America will educate children, parents, grandparents and educators on proper handwashing technique to curtail the transmission of disease. The campaign also will identify key times when it is important to wash hands, such as before and after a meal, in the restroom, or when in any public gathering places. Representatives from the educational and medical community -- including teachers, school nurses and physicians -- will be invited to participate in the program.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), it is estimated that one out of three people do not wash their hands after using the restroom. However, research indicates that handwashing is an important safeguard to counter the spread of disease, according to the following studies:

* A study of 305 Detroit school children found that youngsters who washed their hands four times a day had 24 percent fewer sick days due to respiratory illness, and 51 percent fewer days lost because of stomach upset. Under the supervision of Dr. Susan Longe (then at Providence Hospital and Medical Centers, Southfield, Mich.) teachers in six classrooms had children wash their hands on arrival, before lunch, after recess, and before leaving for the day. The students' sick days for a 37-day period were compared to eight other classrooms that did not have scheduled handwashing. The research concluded that handwashing resulted in a reduced number of sick days. www.foodsafety.gov/~dms/fsehandw.html

* A review of surveillance data for U.S. foodborne disease outbreaks over a five-year period (1988-1992) by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that, of 2,874 outbreaks, contributing factors were reported in 1,435 and that poor personal hygiene was a contributing factor in over a third (514) of them. www.foodsafety.gov/~dms/fsehandw.html

"We want children to understand the importance of proper and routine handwashing," said NSF president and CEO Kevan P. Lawlor. "As people spend more time indoors during the winter months, preventing the spread of viruses and bacteria becomes a challenge. The goal of our campaign is to encourage healthy habits during the upcoming months and throughout the year, with a special focus on protecting our children."

As part of efforts to launch this new campaign, NSF will develop a range of initiatives that encourage proper handwashing practices. More information is available at www.nsfconsumer.org where consumers can download educational handwashing information in English and Spanish to be used at home, in schools and throughout the community.

NSF International, a not-for-profit, non-governmental organization, is the leading global provider of public health and safety risk management solutions in the areas of food, water, indoor air and the environment. NSF provides product certification and safety audits for the food and water industries. Other services include management systems registrations delivered through NSF International Strategic Registrations, Ltd. and education through the NSF Center for Public Health Education. NSF is a World Health Organization Collaborating Centre for Food and Water Safety and Indoor Environment. Founded in 1944, NSF is headquartered in Ann Arbor, Mich. and serves companies in 80 countries.

Source: NSF International

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