It is vital that good standards of personal hygiene are maintained by food handlers. Contaminated hands will spread bacteria around a kitchen very quickly.

To prevent cross contamination of food it is essential to wash your hands frequently. Examples include:

  • before starting work
  • before handling food
  • between handling raw and ready to eat foods
  • after going to the toilet
  • after handling raw foods
  • after handling waste
  • after eating, drinking or smoking, coughing, sneezing or touching your face
  • after taking a break
  • after handling chemicals
  • after handling money

How to wash your hands

Use warm water and preferably antibacterial soap.

After wetting hands, apply soap and use the following procedure to clean your hands thoroughly:

  1. rub palm to palm
  2. rub backs of both hands
  3. rub palm to palm with fingers
  4. rub backs of fingers (interlocked)
  5. rub all parts of both hands
  6. rub both palms with fingertips
  7. rinse hands under running water and dry thoroughly on clean towel

In addition, it is important that staff maintain a high degree of personal hygiene with regard their personal habits. For example:

  • no smoking in food areas
  • no coughing, sneezing, spitting over food
  • no strong smelling perfumes should be worn when handling foods
  • no nail varnish should be worn when handling food
  • no jewellery other than a plain wedding band or sleeper earrings should be worn

All cuts, wounds or sores should be covered with a waterproof dressing.

Over-clothing should be clean and present no risk of contamination to food.

Hair should be tidy and covered where necessary to prevent the risk of it falling into food.

Staff should report to their supervisor if they have had symptoms of diarrhoea, vomiting, nausea, abdominal cramps or fever. These may be indications that they have or have had food poisoning. They should also inform their supervisor if they have infected cuts or wounds, boils or sores that may lead to the contamination of foods.