Food Businesses - Poor Personal Hygiene

Poor personal hygiene can lead to food poisoning.

Poor hand washing by food handlers has recently been associated with serious outbreaks of gastro and food poisoning in the community. All food handlers have a responsibility to handle food safely, so follow the tips below to help you keep food safe.

Why good personal hygiene is important

Even healthy people carry food poisoning bacteria on their bodies. By touching parts of your body, such as your nose, mouth, hair or even your clothes you can spread bacteria from hands to the food.

Good personal hygiene also makes good business sense

Customers like to see food handling staff who take hygiene seriously and practice safe food handling. Watch how your colleagues handle food. Would you want to eat food handled by them?

Tips on good personal hygiene

  • thoroughly wash and dry your hands before handling food and do it frequently while working
  • wash your hands with soap and warm water
  • dry your hands with paper towels - not on a tea towel and never on your clothes
  • hand sanitiser cannot be used instead of proper hand washing
  • never smoke, chew gum, spit, change a baby’s nappy or eat in a food handling or storage area
  • don’t sit on food preparation benches
  • never cough or sneeze over food or a food preparation area
  • wear clean protective clothing
  • keep spare clothes and personal items (like mobile phones or keys) away from food preparation or storage areas
  • tie long hair back or wear a cap or hairnet
  • keep fingernails short and don’t wear nail polish
  • avoid wearing jewellery or only wear a plain ring and sleeper earrings
  • cover cuts or wounds with brightly coloured waterproof wound strips
  • wear disposable gloves over coloured wound strips on your hands
  • change into new disposable gloves regularly and wash your hands between glove changes
  • advise your supervisor if you are unwell while at work and stop handling food
  • do not go to work when you have gastro or food poisoning type symptoms and stay away for at least 48 hours after your symptoms ended.

Page last updated: Thursday, 25 November 2021