Personal hygiene and food safety
In this guide of Personal hygiene in food safety, We will cover the following units:
- unit one, the washing of hands,
- unit two, protective clothing,
- unit three, must do’s versus should not and foreign objects.
We will primarily look at the washing of hands.
We will look at hair, hands and jewelry.
Personal hygiene is extremely important.
And as a food handler, it is paramount that you have an exceptionally high standard of personal hygiene to ensure prevention of contamination.
Our human bodies carry a variety of bacteria, both inside and on our skin, which can be harmful, causing potential food poisoning.
The ideal environment for bacteria on the hands to develop is by having food, moisture and a temperature of around 37 degrees celsius, allowing a fast production, alongside a higher risk of infection.
You must ensure your hands are exceptionally clean at all times. Just think about how many items you pick up or touch throughout the day, all the people you come into contact with.
If all those items have been contaminated with bacteria, just imagine how much could be passed on to food if you didn’t wash your hands thoroughly.
All food handlers should wash their hands before starting work or entering food preparation areas.
After handling raw foods, including meat, eggs, and vegetables, after going to the toilet, after handling allergenic food, before handling any cooked foods, after touching your face, hair or blowing your nose, after handling rubbish or waste products, after cleaning or handling cleaning equipment, after handling chemicals, after smoking and after any breaks.
The best practice for hand washing includes only use a designated hand washing sink, wash your hands thoroughly using a comprehensive hand washing technique, use antibacterial soap and hot water, dry hands thoroughly using disposable paper towels.
Do not use reusable towels.
Let’s take a closer look at an effective procedure for hand washing:
- First wet your hands thoroughly and apply plenty of soap.
- Rock both palms together, interlock fingers, and rub each palm over the back of the other, rub around each thumb, circle each palm using your fingertips and finally rinse with clean water.
- After rinsing with clean water, dry your hands using a disposable paper towel.
- Do not use reusable towels as they harbor bacteria.
- Use an elbow or paper towel to turn off the tap, ensuring you do not directly touch the tap.
- You will have clean, bacteria-free hands.
Let’s look at other practices of good personal hygiene.
Nails must be kept clean, short and free from nail varnish.
Temporary nails must not be worn as these could come off and physically contaminate the food.
All open wounds, such as cuts, spots and boils must be covered with a waterproof dressing, usually blue, making them easily identifiable during food preparation. This is to ensure no contamination of human bacteria.
It is good practice to wear disposable gloves if you have any dressings on the hands to further reduce the risk of contamination to the food.
Food handlers must wear head and beard coverings as necessary prior to additional protective clothing to avoid loose hair physically contaminating food.
Jewelry should not be worn in the preparation of food as it could be harboring dirt and bacteria, which could contaminate the food. If it was to fall off into the food, it would also physically contaminate the food.
The jewelry could also get caught in equipment causing harm to the food handler.
The protective clothing is designed to protect the food that is being handled from the food handler.
The clothing must be exceptionally clean and completely cover all of the food handler’s own clothes. The protective clothing may include some of the following: jackets and trousers, overalls and aprons, hairnets, hats, cuffs and gloves, and safe shoes or safety shoes.
It is ideal for the protective clothing to be light in color so that any risks of contamination can be quickly observed and dealt with.
None of the protective clothing must be worn outside of the food establishments.
In addition to, outside clothing must not be worn within the food preparation areas.
Changing areas and lockers should ideally be provided to assist food handlers, to comply with the regulations. It should also be noted that strong smelling scents, including deodorants, soaps, perfumes, aftershaves and hand creams should be avoided by food handlers, as these can contaminate the food and can taint the flavor of food.
Now, we will look at the things food handlers must do versus the things food handlers should not do.
We will also look at foreign objects.
- A food handler must keep their hair covered when preparing food.
- They must cover wounds and cuts with a waterproof dressing, preferably blue.
- Taste food with a clean spoon every time.
- Use disposable tissues and wash hands.
- And always report to a supervisor if feeling unwell, suffering with skin conditions, and any symptoms of food poisoning.
- A food handler should not comb or touch their hair, smoke or spit, lick their fingers, touch or pick their nose, have painted or artificial nails,
- eat in food preparation areas,
- wear jewelry when handling food,
- wear protective clothing outside or vice versa