Guide Food safety tips for businesses

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4. Personal hygiene


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. Use the following procedure to clean your hands thoroughly.

  • Wet hands with water
  • Apply enough soap to cover all hand surfaces
  • Rub hands palm to palm
  • Right palm over the back of the left hand with interlaced fingers, then vice versa
  • Palm to palm with fingers interlaced
  • Backs of fingers to opposing palms with fingers interlocked
  • Rotational rubbing of left thumb clasped in right palm and vice versa
  • Rotational rubbing, backwards and forwards with clasped fingers of right hand in left palm and vice versa
  • Rinse hands with water
  • Dry thoroughly with towel.

This must take at least 15 seconds to be effective.

Personal habits

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 or spitting in food rooms
  • 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 and 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 it from falling into food.

Staff training

Staff should be trained to follow good hygiene practices.

They must also 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.