Handwashing a serious issue for parents

Issued on behalf of safefood, the Food Safety Promotion Board and the Food Standards Agency Northern Ireland

8 May, 2006. Research undertaken by safefood and the Food Standards Agency Northern Ireland (FSANI) at last year’s RUAS Balmoral Show indicates that over 90% of parents have to remind their children to wash their hands.

The research comes as safefood and FSANI return to Balmoral with their popular handwashing exhibit, designed to teach children about the importance of washing up in a fun, and very realistic, farm environment.

The exhibit has already proved popular with parents – over 80% rated it as an excellent educational tool at last year’s Balmoral Show with over 90% feeling that it very strongly appealed to children.

Based on a realistic farm scene, the stand uses ultraviolet light to highlight to children the ‘bugs’ left on their hands after touching and playing with the stand’s life size sheep, donkey, cow and calf.

Martin Higgins, Chief Executive, safefood believes the apparently simple routine of handwashing cannot be underestimated: “Handwashing remains the best defence against the spread of gastroenteritis. It is vital that everyone, not just children, washes their hands before handling food particularly if they have been working or playing with animals – unwashed hands carry germs that transfer easily to food and to other people. Food poisoning and gastroenteritis can be very unpleasant but very easily avoided, using soap and warm water.”

Trevor Williamson, Head of General Food Hygiene and Incidents with FSANI said: "This is our third year at the Balmoral show and its great to be here again with our stand which proves to be so popular with children and adults alike. Apart from the fun of petting our life sized furry animals, there is a serious message here which demonstrates how vital proper hand washing is to our health. Everyone comes away from the stand amazed at how easy it is to get germs on our hands and how difficult it is to wash them off! They'll certainly think about it the next time they lift something to eat! Good handwashing, especially before handling food, is vital for everyone, not just those who handle animals."

The safefood and FSANI stand is in the main King’s Hall and will be open throughout Balmoral Show.


Notes to editors

  • Statistics are based on research conducted at the safefood/FSANI's stand at last year’s RUAS Balmoral Show – 220 adult visitors completed the questionnaire.

For further information or to request an interview, please contact

Sarah Young
Office: 028 9039 5500
Mobile: 07834 924 975