Food Safety Handler


Is your restaurant meeting health regulation?

Food HandlerAccording to the FDA, the United States ranks among the highest when it comes to food safety. This status only comes through hard work and rigid policies put in place by health departments and the like, but also administered by you, the employer.

To ensure your business stays free of contamination and other ailments, be sure both you and your employees understand how to properly maintain good hygiene while working around and with food. Above all, make sure you have strict policies set in place so that you’re meeting your state’s health regulations, but also so that you can be rest-assured your employees are safely handling all food.

Practice good hygiene.

Wash Hands.

We do everything with our hands! Literally. We pick up, put down, and move things all day long. Because this, hands are easily dirtied. According to Dr. Angela Fraser of North Carolina State University, hands are the most common way that harmful bacteria gets into food. Because of this, all restaurants need an easily accessible hand washing sink complete with adequate hand soap and a way to dry hands. Be sure this sink is not blocked and is easy to use. Food preparation sinks and service sinks cannot be used because of contaminants either getting into the sink or transferring onto one’s hands. Warm water should be used, along with a generous amount of soap to create a lather while washing hands.

Dr. Angela Fraser gives several instances when it is necessary for employees to wash hands:

  • Handwashingafter using the bathroom
  • after coughing, sneezing, smoking, eating, or drinking
  • after bussing a table
  • after handling animals when switching between raw and ready-to-eat food
  • after handling garbage or trash
  • after handling dirty equipment or utensils
  • during food preparation

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Personal Hygiene.

Part of maintaining a safe environment for food is making sure your employees dress in proper work attire and maintain cleanliness at all times. This includes small details like with fingernails, as well as with appropriate work clothing. Fingernails should be kept short and trimmed. Longer nails run the risk of breaking or of dirt or other contaminants getting stuck below them. Single-use gloves can be used when an employee wears nail polish or fake nails.

Whether your restaurant requires a specific uniform or not, be sure your employees are always dressed their best. This includes clean clothing. Not only can dirty clothing easily transfer contaminants, but it also is not appealing for your customers. Jewelry should also be prohibited when dealing with food. Pieces of it may fall off into food, or it may get dirty and transfer harmful contaminants.

Protect Your Food.

Hair restraints work to protect food from any stray follicles of hair or from any contaminants transferred when touching hair. In addition, any cuts or wounds should always be covered. This ensures that no infections will transfer into food. Dr. Angela Fraser says if a worker bandages a cut or wound and covers it with a glove, it does not need to be reported. “However,” Dr. Fraser further states, “if the worker does not bandage it, they must let their manager know about the infected cut.” This policy helps to ensure your workplace is handling food with the utmost care. Single-use, non-latex gloves should also be worn after washing hands to prevent any transfer of contaminants. Above all, avoid bare-hand contact with ready-to-eat food whenever you can. Restrict or exclude employees from working when dealing with illnesses or other ailments.

Put policies into action.

Proper handling of food will only come with enforcement of policies.

  • Be sure your employees are aware of these policies at the start of their employment
  • Train employees on policies and explain why they are necessary
  • Manage your employees — be sure everyone is abiding by the policies set in place by you
  • Be a model of good hygiene yourself
  • Change/edit your policies to comply with state regulations

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Source:
Angela M. Fraser, Ph.D., Associate Professor/Food Safety Specialist; Department of Family and Consumer Sciences. NC State University.

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