Good personal hygiene is important in most situations, but it’s especially crucial for food handlers in a kitchen setting. Proper food handling, which includes good personal hygiene, is an important element in food safety.
Good personal hygiene habits go a long way with customers. You are handling their food, and they want to see food handlers that look professional and put-together, as opposed to food handlers that follow poor hygiene habits.
But personal hygiene isn’t just about appearances—it’s about preventing food poisoning. Everyone carries a certain level of bacteria. Touching your eyes, mouth, nose, hair, or clothing, and then proceeding to touch food without washing your hands promotes the spread of that bacteria.
Here are some things to keep in mind when it comes to having good personal hygiene and avoid spreading bacteria from yourself to the food you are preparing.
Following proper handwashing technique is of the utmost importance, as it prevents the spread of foodborne illnesses. Hands should be washed and dried before handling food and in between tasks such as taking out the garbage, handling raw foods, breaks, and touching clothing, hair, or face.
Correct handwashing involves the following steps:
- Wet your hands with clean water and apply soap
- Lather the soap
- Scrub your hands for 20 seconds and make sure to get the back of your hands, between your fingers, and under your nails
- Rinse off the soap
- Dry your hands with a clean towel or hand dryer
Dirty clothing can lead to cross-contaminationwhen bacteria transfers from the garment to the prepared food. Wear a clean uniform at the beginning of each shift and change when necessary. Dirty uniforms should be stored separately from clean ones and stored somewhere outside of the kitchen, and uniforms should be washed after use.
Disposable, single use gloves should be worn and changed frequently. If you have a cut on your hand, it needs to be completely covered with a bandage and cleaned regularly.
If you feel sick or have an illness that is contagious, you should not be handling food. It is incredibly easy to spread bacteria, especially with an illness that is easily transmitted through food.
If you’re experiencing symptoms such as:
- Sore throat with fever
you should not go to work until your symptoms are gone for at least 48 hours. Let your boss know when you are experiencing these symptoms, or other issues like a cold or contagious eye infection.
As a food handler, make sure you undergo proper training to understand safe food handling practices. Learn more through our online, video-based food handlers training course.
And learn more about personal hygiene and food safety through this video.