H is for… Hygiene


This is a picture clicked sometime back at 5 am on Jaipur Railway station. Look at this picture closely.

What do you see?
Well, here’s a man standing near his sales cart.
Packets of potato wafers are lying on the floor near his feet

What would happen next?
The packets of chips would be picked and arranged on the sales cart, neatly.
A passenger like you and me would come and buy a pack or two.
Next the pack would be opened and the un-healthiness goodness of the chips would be enjoyed.

Take another scenario, we enter a supermarket, while we are walking in the long aisles, looking and comparing the goods, a few employees of the store are busy arranging/replenishing the stocks on the shelves.
Have you seen that some of the stock lie on the ground near their feet and that could include the bread packs or the Vermicelli packets…supermarket_displays_EP

Sometimes, even a cleaner with his broom would pass by the stocks-lying-on the-ground.

While we are picking that thing another thing falls down from the shelf. What do we do? We pick it up and place it back on the shelf.
So many times, the food items are stacked outside our local kirana (grocery) shop (sometimes on the road) before they are neatly arranged on their respective counters.

We buy the goods and bring them back home and stock them in the fridge or cupboard or the kitchen counter or some drawer.

Would you do anything different from what I have mentioned above?
As for me, after buying the potato chips at the railway station, I would have washed it with water and then enjoyed my chips.(Incidentally, I saw him push some chips which were getting in his way, with his foot)

On reaching home after the grocery shopping, my first task would be to wash all the packs, right from the bread, milk pouches, eggs, vermicelli pack, salt bag, the rice bag, the biscuits, the namkeens, jam and ketchup bottles, juice tetra packs, oil can… everything would be washed with water and placed in a big basket for drying. Once they are dry, then I’d place them at their respective places, whether in the refrigerator or in the cupboards.

While many friends and relatives have adopted this habit of mine there are many who roll their eyes at this cleanliness and hygiene freakiness.

What is your take on this?
Share your thoughts and views… washing all packs after buying is sensible or simply a crazy mania??  Over to you…

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86 thoughts on “H is for… Hygiene

  1. Hmm sensible. Never thought about it. But with my brat around, getting the grocery into its place is quite a challenge. It is usually kept locked in another room, slowly getting sorted and put into its place.
    Because of this hygiene issue, I hardly ever have pani puris or anything else from road side vendors. I also avoid anything raw or curd. Hot food is ok.

  2. Quite a food for thought post…i have never thought in the same line to be honest. But with a toddler in our house we actually have to hide the grocery bag and then slyly pass those stuffs in kitchen cabinet or refrigerator….but somehow i am feel that it is not a mania but just to be prudent enough against unhygienic practices.

  3. No, no, not crazy at all. You have opened my eyes to something. I try to keep my body healthy using natural products and I do many cleanses for my inner body. I always wash veggies in some kind of peroxide solution but I never thought about the sealed cartons that are exposed to the chemical they use to clean floors, etc.
    Thank you for pointing this out.
    wanna buy a duck

    • Some friends call me Crazy about Cleanliness! But I become like Jesus Christ in such situations and say a prayer aloud, “Father, forgive them for they do not know what they are saying” 😀

  4. This is the first time I heard about washing the cartons.Thank you Shilpa for making every body aware of the unhygenic conditions in handling them in the stores.

    • I believe that the packaged stuff in stores and shops is subjected to so much of dust and is handled by so many people, so the best we can do is wash them off. Glad to share a thought 🙂

  5. I think with all the diseases/health threats that are showing up, one can never be careful enough about hygiene, additives in food etc. Something seemingly harmless could be a breeding ground for germs. Enlightening post Shilpa :-)Cheers, Laxmi.

    • Had read an email many years ago, about rat urine on soda cans which caused leptospirosis. I dont know whether it is true or not. But I know this for sure that the food stuff kept in store rooms/godowns of shops/supermarkets is not free from the menace of rats, lizards and other insects/germs. Also the way it is handled by the personnel… the least we can do is clean them before placing in fridge or consuming them! Thanks Laxmi, glad you found this post relevant 🙂

  6. i definitely wash milk packets and only becoz sometimes there are teeny tiny holes and the milk seeps thru leaving the fridge a mess; but bread and other stocks – no I don’t do that. you wash the biscuit packets too ??????? a food for thought post shilpa !

    • Everything, Priya 😀 The hands become so dirty after picking up all these biscuits pillow packs and cans, tetra packs and bottles… so, washing them is mandatory na?? 😀 Also my thought is that when you are opening that biscuit pack, you are not taking care whether the biscuits are touching that outside packaging or your hands have touched the outer (dirty) pack and the biscuits. Know what I mean?! I know, I know… you are rolling your eyes! 😀

  7. An eye-opener post. Not sure if this happens in NZ so I will blissfully carry on just the way I normally do. An interesting post for H.

  8. I’ve seen my mom do that, especially with milk packets which sometimes were caked with dried up milk from another ruptured packet. But, I haven’t ever thought of doing that! Always felt a few germs would help my immune system. But then, I also pick up chips which have fallen to the floor and eat them! LOL!

    • I too do that ‘picking chips from floor’ 🙂 and I eat panipuri from street vendors too 🙂
      The idea of washing the packets never crossed my mind ! On the other hand, I have OCD of washing hands, vessels/utensils and veggies. My mother, MIL, husband… always complain about my ‘over cleanliness’:) I can bear an untidy living room, bedroom to an extent but my kitchen and bathroom must be clean always. I am kind of split personality when it comes to cleanliness and hygiene.
      But I do really appreciate your sense of hygiene – it is sensible and never crazy.

  9. Well sensible I would say ! I carry wipes with me all the time .. and we wash the milk pouches.
    And my mother is extremely particular about washing the veggies ! And the Golden rule in our house – Wash your hands as soon as you are home is never to be broken !

    • Aha! You made my day, Ruchira. Washing hands after coming home is mandatory at our place too and also before doing anything in the kitchen. Husband keeps telling to whosoever is listening, “Haath dho dho kar, haath hee ghis gaye hai”!! 😀

  10. milk packets i definitely wash. I am as finicky as you shilpa when it comes to cleanliness bcoz i once saw a show on discovery showing microorganisms through a microscope on objects like sofa etc. that is why i get stressed out when i see even a layer of dust. I alwyas have a sanitizer in my hand bag and a few wet tissues. it comes in handy when i travel. Even i hate eating on the road side shops but love the highway chai which is made in front of me and i insist on paper cups only.

    • Oh yes, I remember seeing some program like this too and it was scary!! While we are so particular about hygiene and cleanliness, there are so many people who would never think on these lines! 😀

  11. Hmmm, never thought of this really. But hardly a chips person too! And then again, I don’t really go overboard with hygiene. I feel the body needs to learn to fight them ya. Else we will be such delicate darlings.

    But great, those who can. I am good like this. 🙂

    • I know what you mean V 🙂 The husband who is forced to follow the cleanliness regime at home, says this often, “I survived all this unhygienic conditions before I married you, so if it was ok then, it should be ok even now” 😀

  12. For one I always wipe the “bags of goodness” that I buy from railway stations/airports/bus stops with a wet tissue. Why should I touch it 😛 And yes about the super store issue, we cant really do much about it. However I try to take the one placed far behind because ideally they would have been the ones that were placed before any other one. 🙂

  13. U r making me think now 😉 !
    Ya Indeed its same every where . I do wash milk packets and any thing which is kept in open but never thot abt products in super mart. will try to wash from next time. But I try not to pick the ones at the edge which keep falling down ..for the same hygiene reasons

  14. A very sensible post Shilpa. Kind of eye opener to me. Though I practice a good level of personal hygiene but washing every single pack is something I have never done. But really felt disgusted to see and read about the chips packets and the products lying off the shelf in super markets.

  15. This is why I hate it when packets are stuffed inside containers that I have washed and dried. Well, I cut open the packets and empty them into clean and dried containers, not wash the packets.

  16. I keep away from eating unhealthy food usually. Even with chips, Lays is the most i would indulge in. Locally made food available in carton is a big no for me. But from that picture, i guess it would be better to go by your way and wash the packet before use!

    Loved the post:) first time commenting here. Looking forward to your posts:)

    • Hi Maliny, Welcome to this space. You just have to look around and all you will see is unhygienic conditions! And since I am a cleanliness freak, I cant turn a blind eye after seeing something fishy and dirty! 😛
      Thanks for commenting and see you around. 🙂

  17. I am finicky about hygiene and especially more so while cooking. But nope have never washed the packs. What I avoid is using lips to cut open a pack. And yes, there can be serious diseases especially when these storing places have rats. Definitely better to be safe than sorry.

    • Using mouth to tear open a pack is a big No-No! I ‘d like to share another thing… There are so many people who pack their lunch boxes or keep the fried stuff in newspapers. We have been to the newspaper hawkers who insert the various promo leaflets at 2.30-3 am. You must see it to believe it… the way the newspapers are thrown and are placed on the roadside, the flyers which are inserted inside the newspapers lay scattered on the road too and when it finally comes at our doorstep, you know where all it keeps lying, doorstep, doormat, garden… the amount of dirt, dust our newspapers have and we find them good enough to pack our food!!!

  18. Never ever thought about that. Only things we look at washing before consumption are fruits/vegetables. And me and my sister carry the hand sanitizer in our bags.
    But never really thought of keeping things hygienic to the T!

  19. If your objective was to keep me from eating chips, you succeeded, Shilpa! 😉 Thankfully, we don’t look into the kitchens of the restaurants we eat at…or else we might never eat again!

  20. An eye opener post indeed! I do wash milk packets, eggs and fruits (I never had the privilege to get vegetables for myself 😀 ) but being a hosteller who has time to think about all such stuff. I buy a packet of chips and the hungry me starst munching them straightaway. Well, that’s what I had been doing till now. In fact I never gave a thought to it.
    But now I know what is to be done everytime I return from a super market with all my eating stock and my monthly grocery mostly contains chips, biscuits, wafers and everything unhealthy u can say.
    I really have to thank u

  21. Shilpa, I never thought about washing packages or cartons before. I do wash the tops of cans before opening (I’ve heard such terrible stories that may NOT be urban myths!) This is a good point!
    Like Corinne, I’m not always comfortable eating in a restaurant. You never really know what’s going on with the food before it reaches you – augh!

    • Yes, Lori, have heard of some serious illnesses because of contamination on lids of cans. True, about restaurants… what goes behind the scene in the kitchens if known to us, we’d never ever eat outside food! 🙂

  22. What doesn’t kill me makes me stronger 😉 I grew up in South Africa. We have tough constitutions. I’ve never washed the top of a can (never mind a chip packet!) and used to drink straight from the metal – I’m still here and super healthy despite it 🙂

  23. True story. Someone had put a carton of cream on a shelf next to the check out. The container was warm. I handed the carton to the check out lady and she handed it to the bagging guy and told him to go put it back.
    I didn’t say anything, but it did make me worry about how many times have I gotten something that could have been spoiled.

    Blogging A to Z Challenge http://www.shellygoodmanwright.com/apps/blog/

  24. Shilpa, you’re someone after my own heart. Till date, the only pack I’ve seen that urges us to wash the outer pack before use is the idly/dosa batter pack. I’ve seen the way packets are treated before they’re stacked on the shelves. Ugh.

    Great post!

    • I am so happy to read your comment here, Vidya. Yes, I remember seeing the instructions to wash the dosa batter packs . Seeing the way the packs are handled make me adopt this habit of washing everything! 🙂

  25. I did not think of this. But, I feel it a task…cos’ I am lazy. Well, I do tell my kids to wash the juice cans or pour the juice into a glass before drinking. Sensible thing to do.

  26. I wash the milk packets but never chips or other packed stuff. Your post made me rethink my choices, even if I don’t wash the packets I might pour the contents out in a clean box before eating them.

  27. Can’t say the thought ever crossed my mind for anything other than produce that’s not packaged like fresh fruit and vegies, I do wash those, and my hands after they have touched a shopping trolley… or petrol pump for that matter if there isn’t gloves. You have given something to think about.

  28. OMG Shilpa, horrible!!! okay, now I didn’t see or read your post..I forgot everything…(closing eyes)…Washing milk packets make sense but not other grocery..I mean it does make sense, but I wouldn’t do it. 🙂

  29. I would not wash the sealed packets Shilpa…Just make sure my hands are clean when taking the contents out…After all germs are not confined to the floors of the supermarket….Fruits and Vegetables yes would definitely wash well…

  30. Pingback: Hygiene is two-thirds of health - A Rose Is A Rose Is A Rose!

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