Food Safety and Protection

Hand air dryers or paper towels?

In this episode we discuss how to test compressed air, labelling plastic containers, what is the most effective hand drying method along with a food safety fail and visiting the equipment graveyard.

Watch the video below



Time Line

0:00 – In this Episode

0:18 – Compressed Air Testing

1:02 – Action Item of the week – the equipment Graveyard

1:26 – Raw Milk and Camplylobacter

1:43 – How to label plastic containers

2:27 – Food Recall – Integrity of canned foods

2:54 – Hand drying Methods

4:52 – Food Safety Fail

5:07 – Leave a Comment




Hi, I am Amanda Evans and welcome to this week’s HACCP Mentor Review. In this episode we discuss how to test compressed air, labelling plastic containers, what is the most effective hand drying method along with a food safety fail and visiting the equipment graveyard.


Compressed Air Testing

If you use compressed air in your food business you need to ensure the safety of this material. This is especially pertinent when the compressed air comes in contact with packaging materials and cleaning. You don’t need the air being a source of contamination. There are different ways that you can test the safety or purity of your compressed air. Methods of collection can include the use of air sampling equipment, membrane filtration, and sterile sponges. Whatever method you choose, make sure it is an aseptic sampling collection is used. Talk to your testing laboratory for the best method of testing for your business situation.

Action item of the Week

This week’s action item is for your maintenance people, as it seems to be their responsibility the majority of the time. This week go around your food business and check that redundant equipment is adequately stored and does not cause a pest harbourage. This includes any metal pipes that mice and rats could nest in or clearance areas around your equipment ‘grave-yard’.

Food Poisoning Outbreak

Ongoing investigations into a Campylobacter Outbreak Associated with Consumption of Raw Milk continues this week in Alaska. There is currently twenty-two (22) people who have been ill linked to this outbreak.

Labelling of plastic containers  Hand air dryers or paper towels?

The labelling of containers from waste to sanitiser bottles to ingredient storage can be challenging for any food business. Finding the right method to ensure that the labelling will remain on can be tough.

Colour coding containers would have to be the easiest method that I have seen as an auditor. Make sure that you have relevant signage and training to inform food handlers what each colour means. Colour coding works well for garbage bins, rework bins and recycling. For sanitiser bottles, water proof adhesive labels or key tags can be used. Colour coded lids are another good method for identification.

Food Recalls

A voluntary recall this week was undertaken for canned tuna products due to a packaging fault. The fault related to loose seals or seams which could result in product contamination by spoilage organisms or pathogens. This is a good reminder to check if packaging faults have been included in your hazard analysis and if you have a suitable control measure and monitoring actions in place.

Hand Drying methods

A common argument I hear is the hand air dryers V disposable paper towels. I definitely have my preference based on what I have seen on both a scientific and a practical point – so let’s compare the two options. Before we get into it, I want to define what is the purpose of hand drying. Straight forward I know, but the purpose is to dry your hands after hand washing as wet hands can become a source of future contamination if they remain moist.

Using a single use disposable towel is a quick and easy hand drying technique that is not only effective but also promoted through public health agencies. It relies on the paper absorbance and physical action of the user to remove excess moisture. Single-use towels are less likely to be contaminated with negative bacteria.

Hand air dryers are not as effective and in some instances can be a source of contamination. One of the down-falls of the hand air dryer is the time it takes to dry your hands. When you look at how busy a food business can get, I truly believe (and I have seen), that people are more likely not to dry their hands if this is the hand drying method in place. The option of drying your hands on your clothing becomes greater which leads to post hand washing contamination of your hands.

Depending on where you are located or what customer standard you are certified to, the decision is not so hard as single-use paper towel is the only option allowed. If you elect to go for hand air dryers, make sure you have sufficient validation and verification data to support that hands are not contaminated.

I guess you can pick my preference, so let me know what you think and leave a comment below this review.

Food Safety Fail

This week’s food safety fail goes to a UK based manufacturer who had to recall selected packaged cashew nuts and almonds after a ‘Hygiene Emergency Prohibition Notice’ was issued due to a rodent infestation.

Leave a comment

That wraps up another episode of HACCP Mentor review. Be sure to leave your comments below this review especially on your hand drying preference.

Until next time, thanks so much for watching or listening. I am Amanda Evans from


5 thoughts on “Hand air dryers or paper towels?”

  1. Re compressed air testing, if you are in Sydney I can highly recoomend Advanced Analytical Labs, of all the labs I spoke to, they were the only ones who have the equipment & the expertise – Contact Tass Karalis.
    Re Hand Dryers, when I was at Rmy previous employment, we replaced all our paper towels in production with Dyson Airblades – they don’t need maintenance apart from a daily wipe over, have a Hepa air filter which lasts up to 5 years, they have very good validation studies to prove their effectiveness (see the Dyson website) and under SQF if you apply std – which refers to validated alternative methods – they are acceptable. We found that staff were not using paper towels, the waste they generate is extreme when you consider how often staff wash their hands and the hand towel dispensers are often not topped up, for me it’s a no brainer if you have these issues. They also pay for themselves within 12 months in heavy use areas when you consider the cost of hand towels. BUT – only the Dyson Airblades meet the conditions for hand drying in production areas.

  2. Very nice product your HACCP Mentor, and a good mix of topics.
    Although I have a number of interests, I am probably the most qualified expert on hot air dryer negatives on the planet. I say this as I have performed a number of studies in the US and UK (with University of Wales-UWIC), and provided a full written report covering the subject for the US Navy. They were considering hot air for all of their ships. I have also successfully advised both the FDA and USDA. You did a good job presenting what you were able to find, would be happy to look at your reference list. Newer Dyson dryers may be a different kettle of fish. 4 measures of hand drying effectiveness; 1) speed of drying, 2) degree of dryness, 3) effective removal of microorganisms from hands, 4) prevention from cross-contamination.
    Also did an interesting study on paper towel dispenser cross-contamination potential with UWIC which turned into 3 papers in Am J. Infect. Cont. which you may be interested in.

    1. Barry,
      It sounds like you are truely qualified to speak on this subject! I have been recently questioning the effectivness / potential risk of air dryers vs. paper towels. If you would be willing to share your study with me I would love to learn more. Also – do you have any specific data on the Dyson Airblades / dryers? I have seen many of those in food plants recently and they appear to be a growing trend. Thanks in advance!

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