The philanthropic donation of Handwashing For Life (HFL)

Dec. 15, 2022

During this season of giving, hence our 2022 Giving Campaign, we thought it perfect to announce the merger of Handwashing For Life® (HFL), through the philanthropic donation of this esteemed organization by Jim Mann as the founder, with the Center for Foodborne Illness Research and Prevention (CFI) at The Ohio State University. This partnership will add to CFI’s food safety portfolio by incorporating the hand hygiene factor into its family of resources to be THE true center for food safety information, research, and operational guidance to prevent foodborne disease.  

“Sustaining and maintaining the work conducted by HFL in foodservice and healthcare through CFI's stewardship will support a positive culture around cleaning hands to prevent the spread of disease. This alliance will undoubtedly result in evidence-informed handwashing policies and practices that benefit a spectrum of food safety stakeholders and contribute to the protection of public health.” - Barb Kowalcyk, Director of CFI 

Handwashing For Life® (HFL) started as an offshoot from a strategic consulting assignment with National Defense Contractor, EG&G. HFL discovered technologies that could be used in providing evidence for cleaning procedures, including handwashing. This experience motivated the formation of Handwashing For Life® to provide the vision, the strategies and the tactics to make handwashing a controllable process - the major missing link for a truly science-based food safety system. 

Handwashing For Life

However, HFL’s deeper, more research-minded, dive into the science of handwashing started soon after the Jack-In-The-Box outbreak of 1992 and a later interview with Dr. Dave Theno who was hired to save that brand. This outbreak was a watershed event that brought “foodborne illness” and handwashing into the headlines. 

Jim Mann

HFL sought to establish a process that would help a broad range of operators, including foodservice and healthcare. The original situation-analysis template evolved into an easy to understand, easy to implement, 5-step system that became known as the Hands-On System. Its goal is sustainable behavior change, measured and reported as verified handwashing data. HFL has even gone ahead to create the tangible tools needed to assist in the implementation of each step. 

In step 3, of this system, technology leaders of equipment and disposables were engaged in the process by HFL designation of them as a best practice supplier. These companies were offered membership in The Handwashing Leadership Forum. The Handwashing Leadership Forum® was created as a platform for key technology companies to work together. This alliance of established leaders, committed to the future, recognized there was more to gain by working together than pursuing their smaller piece of the total promise – changing handwash behaviors to protect consumers, staff, and the business itself.  

As CFI embarks on the ownership succession of HFL, we seek to continue to help business operations teams implement HFL’s enhanced hand hygiene system, through CFI's Food Safety Consortium! By having past and prospective HFL Leadership Forum members join CFI’s Food Safety Consortium annual membership, we can fuel sustainable growth of CFI’s HFL, through engagement with individuals and organizations interested in achieving our mission of advancing food safety systems that protect public health by preventing foodborne illness. 

“Increasing CFI’s food safety portfolio by incorporating the hand hygiene factor into its family of resources further leverages CFI’s research skills and recognition as the global authority in converting the risk of unwashed hands into enduring, evidence-based public health solutions.” - Jim Mann, Founder of HFL 

As a likeminded organization with an established research mindset, striving for growth driven by evidence-based innovation, the Center for Foodborne Illness Research & Prevention at The Ohio State University will carry forward the Handwashing For Life® promise to “Overcome under-washing”.