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Sani(tation) Claus

Gerald W. Deas M.D., MPH | 12/12/2013, 4:44 p.m.
I’m sure that during this holiday season, all of us will be eating foods that are prepared by other hands
Dr. Gerald Deas

I’m sure that during this holiday season, all of us will be eating foods that are prepared from other hands, whether it be from relatives, co-workers, caterers or those in the restaurant business. Most folks are considerate in their preparation and sanitize their hands.

By the way, in order to make hands almost germ-free, one should wash them in sudsy, hot water for at least 20 seconds. This washing will ensure the elimination of certain bacteria such as E. coli, which is usually picked up from the gastrointestinal tract.

I’m sure that you have seen signs in restrooms stating, “Employees must wash their hands.” I am really not sure how this request is adhered to. At this point, if the restroom is not supplied with adequate hot water and soap, beware!

What really bothers me are these blowing systems that are used to dry hands after washing them. It is impossible to get the hands completely dry before touching doorknobs to leave the bathroom. You can bet that your hands can pick up many germs from the door handle.

Food handlers should be made well aware of how contaminated hands can spread to food products. I’m often surprised to observe on television how show hosts handle food with ungloved hands and never wash their hands.

During this holiday season, I am also really interested in protecting the health of Santa Claus, who might take a taste of the food that is left for him under the tree for his generosity while giving out toys. If that morsel of food is contaminated, and he eats it, he may fall into trouble with gastrointestinal problems such as diarrhea, associated with nausea and vomiting due to E. coli contamination. We know that this bug can cause your colon to become irritated, resulting in a dance known as “squeeze and shuffle.”

Santa has a great deal of work to do in delivering his toys to good boys and girls, so it is very important to keep him free from this contamination (moms and dads, take heed). If Santa gets sick, it will take more than eight little reindeer to help him deliver the rest of the toys. It will be more than a sleigh ride because he will be slipping and sliding through the snow, trying to hold up his pants.

If you become a victim of food poisoning due to E. coli contamination, resulting in nausea, vomiting and diarrhea, it is important to control the diarrhea with medications such as Imodium, which can be purchased over the counter. Fluid replacement is necessary and can be done so with products like Pedialyte, Gatorade and chicken broth with salt.

I hope all of you who are “Sani(tation) Clauses” will take heed of this most important advice concerning hand sanitation and allow Santa to do his job on Christmas eve.

Over 30 years ago, I wrote a song that had a Black Santa in it, called “Soul Santa,” and it was recorded by Brook Benton.