In the interest of good food hygiene it is important that hands are washed properly and to avoid handling food if ill or the person has cuts or sores on their hands. Germs easily spread through poor personal hygiene and also from cross contamination between raw and cooked foods. Therefore it is imperative for hands to be washed:

  • On arrival at work and before touching and eating food
  • After a break or smoking (coming back into a food preparation area)
  • After handling raw foods such as meat, poultry, fish, eggs, fruit and vegetables before touching any other food or kitchen utensils
  • After touching or emptying rubbish bins
  • After visiting the toilet or changing nappies
  • After playing with pets or handling farm animals
  • Touching dirty surfaces or picking something off the floor
  • Touching your face, particularly your nose, mouth, ears and hair, after coughing and sneezing

A good hand washing technique can considerably reduce the spread of infectious diseases and prevent cross contamination, where possible:

  • Always use a liquid soap and running warm water
  • Wet hands before applying soap to prevent irritation
  • Rub hands together vigorously for at least 20 seconds to create a lather, making sure both sides of the hands and wrists are washed thoroughly, particularly around the thumbs, between each finger and around and under the nails
  • Rinse with clean running water
  • Dry hands thoroughly with a clean dry disposable paper towel or under a hot hand dryer (not a tea towel or apron)
  • Germs spread more easily if hands are wet so dry them thoroughly.

Anti bacterial gel can be used after washing hands but not as a substitute. Antibacterial gel is not effective if hands are visibly dirty.

Cuts and grazes must be covered with a suitable waterproof dressing. Cover all cuts, burns and sores and change dressings regularly. Pay extra attention to any open wounds on hands and arms. The dressing should be brightly coloured (blue plasters) so that it can easily be seen in food if it falls off.

  • Avoid working in the kitchen in soiled clothing - when cooking, use a clean apron but don't use it to wipe your hands.
  • Take off jewelry such as watches, rings and bracelets as well as washing hands and wrists before starting (a simple wedding band type ring may be acceptable).
  • Hair coverings should be worn if appropriate
  • Nails should be kept clean and short without varnish and smoking should not take place in the food preparation area’s

As with all HACCP systems, good personal hygiene and cleanliness of all food storage and preparation areas and equipment is important.

Anyone working with food and developing diarrhoea or vomiting must inform their employer immediately and leave the food preparation area. Consultation should take place with the GP who will advise what action you should take, and may require the person to supply a ‘stool’ sample. If an infection is confirmed the person will be advised when they can return to work

Food Safety Guide

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