You should be aware of food handlers' personal hygiene best practices.
Food handlers' personal hygiene
Maintaining good personal hygiene is essential to avoiding food poisoning.
Wash your hands thoroughly and frequently while handling food.
If you're sick, don't go to work because you're more likely to contaminate food.
Food handlers should receive proper food handling training.
Food poisoning can be avoided with good personal hygiene.
Food poisoning bacteria can be found on anyone - including healthy people. If you touch your nose, mouth, hair, or clothes, and then food, you can spread bacteria from yourself to the meal.
It's also good business sense to maintain good personal hygiene. Customers appreciate seeing food-handling employees that are concerned about hygiene and practice safe food handling.
Consider how your coworkers handle food from the perspective of a customer. Would you prefer to eat or buy food from your workplace?
Personal hygiene advice for food handlers
Follow these guidelines to avoid food poisoning through proper personal hygiene:
- Before handling food, thoroughly wash and dry your hands, and wash and dry them again periodically throughout the day.
- dry your hands with a clean towel, disposable paper towel or under an air dryer
- never smoke, chew gum, spit, change a baby’s nappy or eat in a food handling or food storage area
- never cough or sneeze over food, or where food is being prepared or stored
- wear clean protective clothing, such as an apron
- keep your spare clothes and other personal items (including mobile phones) away from where food is stored and prepared
- tie back or cover long hair
- keep fingernails short so they are easy to clean, and don’t wear nail polish because it can chip into the food
- Wear only plain-banded rings and sleeper earrings if you want to wear jewelry.
- Use a wound strip or bandage to completely cover all cuts and wounds (brightly coloured waterproof bandages are recommended)
- If you have wounds on your hands, wear disposable gloves over the top of the wound strip.
- Replace disposable gloves on a regular basis.
- Tell your supervisor if you're sick, and don't eat anything.
Handwashing is required for food handlers.
Handwashing thoroughly minimizes the risk of contaminating food with microorganisms from your own body.
Use soap and warm water to wash your hands, paying special attention to the backs of your hands, wrists, between your fingers, and under your fingernails.
After you've washed your hands, make sure they're completely dry. Always use a clean towel, disposable paper towel, or an air dryer to dry your hands. The most important thing to remember is to keep your hands completely dry. Never dry your hands with a tea towel or your clothes.
After that, wash your hands:
- going to the bathroom
- working with raw foods
- blowing your nose
- handling garbage
- touching your ears, nose, mouth or other parts of the body
- every break
- handling animals.
If you are wearing disposable gloves, change them regularly – at the same times you would normally wash your hands if you weren’t wearing gloves. Wash and dry your hands before putting on gloves.
Food handler health and working
Because food handlers have the potential to contaminate food, employers and employees must take precautions to ensure that no illness spreads among those working in the industry.
If you are vomiting or have diarrhoea, you should not go to work. Don’t return to work until your symptoms have stopped for 48 hours. If you are unsure, you should seek advice from your doctor.
If you are sick with an illness that is likely to be transmitted through food, don't go to work. Such illnesses include gastroenteritis (often called ‘gastro’) – including viral gastroenteritis (norovirus or rotavirus) – hepatitis A and hepatitis E, sore throat with fever, and fever with jaundice.
You must notify your supervisor if you are sick, including if you have a cold, the flu, sties, or other eye infections.