Food Information Law

6. Personal hygiene of food handlers

Lesson Summary

In order to avoid risks, food handlers have to be careful with:

  • Own health: In case of illness, notify your superior as soon as possible (If you have nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea, fever, skin rash, etc.).
  • Personal hygiene: Maintain a high degree of personal hygiene.
  • Workwear: Work clothes should be exclusively for work and food handling, and should preferably be light-coloured. They should be clean and neat, and should not be taken out on the street or in places where it may become contaminated.

    The cap or hairnet should cover the hair completely to prevent it from falling on the food.

    It is not allowed to wear personal items (pendants, earrings, rings, piercings…)

    If gloves are required for work, they should be kept clean and unbroken. Even if you wear gloves, you should also wash your hands.

  • Hygienic habits: It is prohibited in the workplace: smoking, chewing gum, eating, coughing, sneezing or blowing on food, talking on food (might cause microorganisms we have in our saliva to fall on the food).

    One of the most important habits when working as a food handler is the correct HAND WASHING. Hand washing will be frequent and there are times when it is mandatory.

    Wash your hands with warm water and antibacterial soap, rubbing well between your fingers, and with a hand brush between your nails. Then we’ll dry ourselves with single-use paper.

 

Extended Lesson

Things to keep in mind when handling food

To avoid the risks that may arise, we must take into account different prevention activities that we as food handlers can and must carry out. One of the most important food handling rules is to maintain proper food hygiene and handling at the workplace, which we will explain in more detail below.

The food hygiene rules applicable to handlers would cover different areas, which means that the handler must take care of: health, personal hygiene, wearing the appropriate work clothes and maintaining hygienic habits when handling food.

Take care of your health

They should take care of their health, and if they are ill they should inform their superior as soon as possible, so that they can determine whether or not their seriousness may affect the food.

If we have nausea, vomiting, fever, diarrhea, severe skin conditions, or symptoms of a food-borne illness, we will not be able to perform our job on a temporary basis until you are fully recovered, and it is important that you be advised of this as soon as possible.

If you have cuts or wounds on your hands, they should be disinfected and then covered with waterproof bandages (or strips) that we will cover with gloves, so that they cannot fall off and fall into the food. This will prevent the micro-organisms in the wound from contaminating the food.

Personal hygiene

The most frequent sources of transmission of microorganisms are through the hands, mouth, mucous membranes, and intestine.

Therefore, a high degree of personal hygiene must be maintained, which includes at a minimum going to work in the shower (soap and water), having clean hair, brushing your teeth, and keeping your nails short and clean.

Appropriate work clothing

Work clothes should be exclusively for work and food handling, and should preferably be light-coloured. It should be clean and neat, and should not be taken out on the street or in places where it may become contaminated.

In the case of going out to other places, work clothes should be exchanged for street clothes.

The hat or hairnet should cover the hair completely to prevent it from falling on the food. It also helps us not to touch our hair and then touch the food... and both men and women should wear the hat or hairnet.

It is not allowed to carry personal items while handling food, so jewelry, earrings, watches, pendants, bracelets, rings, piercings, etc... will be removed before the start of the working day. This is explained by the fact that objects accumulate dirt that can be transferred to the food, can also fall into the food and reach the final consumer, and can even cause accidents at work due to being hooked up with them while working.

If gloves are needed for work, they should be kept clean and unbroken. Even if you wear gloves, you should also wash your hands before putting them on, and be as careful as if you didn't wear them.

Hygienic habits when handling food

  • Correctly wash food with plenty of water, especially fruits and vegetables, where it is recommended to wash them with specific products when they are to be consumed raw to ensure that bacteria and chemicals used in the growing process are eliminated.
  • Do not leave food at room temperature for more than two hours.
  • Prepare food shortly before eating or freezing.
  • Reheat the plates to high temperature to eliminate possible bacteria.
  • Eat the fish always cooked or after freezing.
  • Eat the minced meat on the same day you buy it.
  • Freeze food by portion to avoid freezing and thawing food several times.
  • Wash knives and cutting boards thoroughly.
  • Do not mix raw food with cooked food in the refrigerator.
  • Do not thaw food at room temperature, it is best to thaw it overnight or the day before in the refrigerator or use the microwave to thaw food.

The right way to wash your hands

For proper food handling hygiene, one of the most important habits for treating food is proper hand washing. We have a large number of bacteria on our hands, which we can "pass" on to food, so if we wash our hands well and at the right time we will avoid a large number of food-borne diseases.

Wash your hands with hot water and bactericidal soap, rubbing well between your fingers, and with a hand brush clean between your nails. Then we dry with single-use paper and never with air.

Hand washing will be frequent and there are times when it is mandatory to wash your hands:

  • At the beginning of each working day and every time you interrupt work.
  • After handling raw food (to avoid cross-contamination).
  • Before handling cooked food (to avoid cross-contamination).
  • After going to the toilet.
  • After handling garbage or food waste.
  • After using a tissue to cough, sneeze, or blow your nose.
  • After we eat.
  • After charging the customer.
  • After smoking.

Poor food handling practices

In order to guarantee the safety and hygiene of food handling, certain practices must be avoided:

  • Smoking.
  • Chewing gum.
  • Eating at the workplace.
  • Coughing, sneezing, or blowing into food.
  • Touching your hair or scratching.
  • Wear cloths hanging at the waist.
  • Try food with your finger.
  • Introduce dirty spoons of a different food.
  • Clean only with water the utensils used to taste the food.
  • Leave the cloths on the work tables.
  • Leave utensils inside the recipients.
  • Dry hands on apron or pants.
  • Wear bracelets or rings.
  • Wear long, painted or decorated nails.