OK, it’s time to come clean: Do you (or your family members) always remember to wash your hands when cooking at home?

Chances are, most of us don’t. A new study from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) shows that Americans aren’t properly cleaning their hands while preparing food 97 percent of the time.

Proper hand-washing remains one of the most important steps in ensuring food safety, says Carmen Rottenberg, acting deputy under secretary for food safety at the USDA.

“Food is not scary. But you need to handle it...