Absurdly Driven looks at the world of business with a skeptical eye and a firmly rooted tongue in cheek. 

You're in a restaurant bathroom.

You go over to the sink to wash your hands and you see the reminder to employees that they must, must wash theirs.

"They need to be reminded?" you snort sanctimoniously. 

It seems, though, that you need to be reminded too.

It's not that you don't make the effort. Well, usually. It's that you're doing it all wrong.

A study from the U.S. Department of Agriculture insists that 97 percent of Americans contribute to foodborne illnesses spreading across our nation because they don't wash their hands properly before meals.

The researchers studied the habits of 383 people and it makes for toxic reading. It seems we don't even know the basics.

The rule for making sure your hands is clean is very simple and has clearly not been marketed well enough. (I confess I'd not heard of it.)

You have to actually perform 20 seconds worth of handwashing to have a good chance of getting rid of bacteria. 

That, though, doesn't suffice.

Apparently, many Americans then mess everything up by using a dirty towel, which slops bacteria back onto their hands, even though they've performed their minimum of 20 seconds of cleansing.

The truth, of course, is that 20 seconds is a long time. 

We're often in such a hurry that we give it a quick spritz of soap and a cursory rinse and off we go. 

The Department of Agriculture says that washing your hands correctly is just one step toward resisting the spread of bacteria.

Burgers are a big problem, it seems. 66 percent of Americans don't use a food thermometer to check their burgers are at a safe temperature. (160 degrees Fahrenheit)

This is slightly odd, as around 62 percent of Americans claim to own a food thermometer.

Americans are also handling raw poultry in such a cavalier fashion that bacteria can end up in all sorts of places, such as salads, refrigerator handles and spice containers.

But let's get back to the handwashing thing.

One remarkable aspect was that, as these participants prepared meals and handled raw meat product, a mere 33 percent even tried to wash their hands when hygiene would deem it necessary.

And one final statistic to depress you and remind you that you're no saint either: More than 40 percent of those who tried to wash their hands didn't bother to wet them.

And a hearty 20 percent or so didn't bother to, oh, use soap at all.

Happy Fourth of July barbecuing, everyone.

Published on: Jul 2, 2018
The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.