Personal Hygiene

Food handlers should tie back their hair or wear a hat, remove any jewellery they can and practice regular hand washing. You should wear clean clothes or a uniform which does not present a risk of contaminating food. If a food handler has a beard, depending on its length they may need to wear a beard net (or 'snood') to protect food from contamination.

If a If a food handler needs to move through an area where there is a risk of their clothes becoming dirty (e.g. going to the toilets), they should remove any specialist clothing they normally wear during food preparation.

The Food Standards Agency's Safer Food, Better Business pack has information on proper personal hygiene practices for food handlers.

Sickness

If employees that are involved in handling food are unwell, it is important that you take precautions to prevent any further spread of illness. When someone has been ill with vomiting or diarrhoea caused by food poisoning, they can easily transmit bacteria to other people if good personal hygiene practices aren’t followed. You must not handle food while ill, as you can contaminate the food and any surfaces or equipment you come into contact with. The infection can then be spread to other people who eat the food or touch those surfaces/pieces of equipment.

The Food Standards Agency’s guidance is that any food handler who has experienced sickness and diarrhoea must wait at least 48 hours since their last symptoms before returning to work. This is because your body can still contain and shed the bacteria for a time after your symptoms stop, meaning you can still contaminate food and surfaces with it.

If your symptoms persist, you should arrange an appointment with your doctor. Some forms of foodborne illness will require you to submit multiple stool samples for your doctor, to determine whether it is safe for you to return to work.

For more information, consult the Food Standards Agency’s guidance on fitness to work.

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