Food hygiene and personal cleanliness are critical factors in the food industry. Personal hygiene and cleanliness measures are more or less known to everyone. But it is particularly critical for professionals working in the food industry. Good personal hygiene is essential in most practical and professional situations, but it holds a significant place in a kitchen setting. Proper food handling implies personal hygiene as well. It is an implied factor that needs no introduction. Good personal hygiene helps in customer acquisition as well. But personal hygiene is not exclusively dependent on the appearance of the food. It also determines the quality and safety. Every living and non-living object possesses safety threats for food. The various bacterial contamination can ruin the food quality and make it unsafe for consumption.
Hygiene and food safety – Correlated factors
Food hygiene is nothing but the overall cleanliness measures followed by the food factories and handlers. More importantly, it concerns the habits of the food handler. An individual can contain bacteria in the skin, fingers, hands, clothes, and hair. All these can contaminate the food. Actions like coughing or sneezing over the food impact the worst. Food contamination can happen for multiple reasons and originate from various sources. The contamination can happen at any level as well, even during the distribution stage.
Thus, it is critical to sanitize everything related to food. It can be the processing units or the handlers. Everything needs to be safe and ensure zero chances of food contamination. Microorganisms can easily enter the food particle through the handler’s hand, fingers or clothes. It is vital to keep the clothes, nails, rings, and other wearable accessories clean and far from the food preparation or packing step.
Personal hygiene for food handlers
Personal hygiene tips are essential for all food handlers to help the food follow the safety and quality standards. Read on and keep note of the good practices –
- It is essential to wash and keep the hands dry throughout the process of food management, preparation, packaging, and distribution.
- One needs to keep the fingertips and hands dry with a clean towel. A disposable paper towel can also fit the needs alongside an air dryer.
- It is best to avoid smoking, chewing gum, spitting, or eating while handling the food. It is unsuitable for the food storage area as well.
- Do not touch the face, hair, or clothes frequently while handling food to avoid contamination.
- One must never cough or sneeze near the food. It is ideal to wear a mask near the food preparation unit.
- It is best to wear disposable and clean protective clothing, like kitchen aprons.
- Do not keep the mobile phone near the food processing unit to avoid the chances of bacteria interaction.
- It is essential to tie the hair and cover the head to avoid letting the strands fall on the surface.
- Fingernails need to be short and clean inside out while preparing or packaging the food.
- It is ideal to avoid finger rings and other jewelry pieces that could come in contact with the food.
- One should wear disposable gloves and change them regularly while handling food with cuts or wounds on the hand.
Handwashing tips for food handlers
Handwashing is as critical as maintaining food safety standards. Your hands have the maximum chance of contaminating the food with bacteria and viruses. As a food handler, you must wash your hands with soap and lukewarm water. It is essential to keep the hands, palms, wrists, and back of the hand clean. Thus, while washing your hands, do not forget to use soap on the backs of your hands and wrists. It is also essential to clean the area between your fingers and under the fingernails. If you wear rings or bracelets, you must remove them and clean the accessories separately. This way, you can ensure optimal cleaning. Dry the hands with a clean towel or disposable paper towel. If possible, it is better to dry the hand and every part of the finger under an air dryer. Lastly, never use a tea towel, apron, or your clothes to pat your hands for drying after washing them with soap.
Food handlers must wash their hands frequently. Remember to follow the handwashing tips while – handling raw food, after visiting the washroom, handling the garbage, touching the face, ears, nose, mouth, etc. It is also better to wash your hands after smoking, eating, touching money, and handling animals. Always make the hands dry before putting on disposable gloves. Never wash your hand while wearing gloves.
Critical information and training for food handlers
Food handlers need professional training in maintaining personal hygiene. It is a part of the professional rules. The food factories and professional units must organize workshops to help them follow the protocols. Following the norms and practices are critical for every food handler. Strict employee policies and warnings can improve the situation and ensure a safe environment.
Also, the food handlers need to recognize the need for maintaining such hygiene practices. Providing them the essential information related to personal hygiene and safety should be part of the training process.
About overall health – For all food handlers
Besides maintaining personal hygiene measures, food handlers should focus on the health-related aspects that could contaminate the food. In case of an illness or contagious disease, it is best to avoid an encounter with food preparation, processing, or packaging. A food handler must refrain from their duty if they are – Vomiting, down with diarrhea, having fever, etc.
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