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Respect your workmates: always wash your hands

November 10, 2005

Respect your workmates: always wash your hands

Initial Healthcare’s Jeanette Van Roy says one third of New Zealanders need to be reminded to wash their hands after using the bathroom

There's about 119,000 cases of food-borne illness in New Zealand each year and one of the easiest ways to avoid being a statistic is to go wash your hands.

It's national Foodsafe Week and Jeanette Van Roy, Divisional Manager of Initial Healthcare, part of the Rentokil Initial group, says New Zealanders can help themselves by getting their bathroom habits up to scratch.

Ms Van Roy says studies have shown that one third of people do not wash their hands after using the bathroom. The highest concentration of bacteria on the hands can be found on and between the fingers and under the nails.

The most common bacteria to be found in bathrooms are Bacillus, Influenza, Shigella, Proteus, Bateroides, E-coli, Pseudomonas Aeruginos, Haemophilus, Clostridium, Klebsiella, Staphlococcus and Streptococci. All are known to spread through improper hand hygiene.

“Many bathroom surveys have found that a worryingly high number of people do not wash their hands and for those who do, it is often not thoroughly, resulting in a high risk of transferring bacteria to food and other workmates”, she says.

Ms Van Roy says Initial Healthcare is poised to launch an educational campaign in workplaces to promote hand hygiene as part of good employee wellness programmes. She says another factor is that as people are drinking more water to maintain good health, the number of trips to the bathroom are increasing too.

“Remembering to wash your hands after using the bathroom may come naturally to most people, but for one third of us the message has just not got through.

“The campaign aims to get across a serious health message and change behaviour, but in a friendly and humourous way. We hope the campaign provokes a bit of discussion around the water cooler at work”, she says.

Earlier this week Initial Healthcare put Foodsafe Freddie stickers on 70 of their service vans around the country. The mascot of the New Zealand Foodsafe Partnership, Foodsafe Freddie is promoting the message “Go wash your hands” within the core Partnership theme of the four Cs of handling food – Clean, Cook, Cover, Chill.

New Zealand Foodsafe Partnership chairman Dr Greg Simmons said it was great that major companies like Rentokil Initial were getting behind Foodsafe Week and helping spread the message, because food safety was something people often took for granted, without realising how much was involved in ensuring standards were maintained.

“It’s an issue which gets the headlines when something goes wrong. We want people to realise how much effort goes into making things go right and how they can contribute to that by ensuring hygiene standards are maintained in the home and workplace” says Mr Simmons.

Foodsafe Week, running from November 7-13, is an initiative of the New Zealand Foodsafe Partnership, of which Rentokil Initial is a foundation member.

About the New Zealand Foodsafe Partnership

The Partnership was set up in 1998 with a small group of representatives from the food industry, consumer groups, public health groups, MAF Food (now the New Zealand Food Safety Authority) and the Ministry of Health, to promote consistent and appropriate food safety messages to New Zealand consumers. For more information on the Partnership please visit

About Rentokil Initial Limited
Part of the global Rentokil Initial group, Rentokil Initial’s three New Zealand business units are Initial Healthcare (washroom hygiene), Rentokil Pest Control and Rentokil Tropical Plants. Rentokil Initial employs 260 staff in 22 locations around New Zealand, including 130 mobile service technicians.

Rentokil Initial has operated in New Zealand for 40 years and services a client base of over 20,000 companies nationwide.

Parent Company Rentokil Initial plc is one of the largest business services companies in the world, operating in the major economies of Europe, North America, Asia Pacific and Africa. Listed on the London Stock Exchange (RTO.L), the company has some 90,000 employees providing a range of support services in over 40 countries.

In October 2005 Rentokil Initial plc was judged to be in the top 10% of the biggest 2,500 companies in the Dow Jones World Index in terms of economic, environmental and social criteria and in the top 20% of the European Dow Jones STOXX SM 600 Index. Assessed on issues such as corporate governance, climate change, supply chain standards, and labour practices, the annual review of the DJSI family is based on a thorough assessment of corporate economic, environmental and social performance.

For more information on Rentokil Initial and Initial Healthcare please visit and


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