As expert food hygiene compliance practitioners, our team are in the business of ensuring hospitality businesses receive that 5-star food hygiene rating from their local Environmental Health Officer (EHO). The reality remains though, that the number of procedures and protocols your restaurant, pub, hotel, takeaway or café kitchen has in place to maintain high standards of food safety compliance, do not 100% safeguard your venue’s reputation. It is in fact your employees’ personal hygiene that is paramount to keeping your customers safe from harm.
The worrying thing with personal hygiene is that it is rather hard to monitor. An EHO inspection is not actually designed to be able to properly assess the personal hygiene of your staff since this would violate their privacy rights. As such, despite doing all you can to appease the EHO’s unforgiving evaluations and achieving a 5-star food hygiene rating, your business’ reputation could still be at risk due to your staff’s neglect to obey personal hygiene guidelines.
So what should your personal hygiene guidelines include?
Avoid cross contamination and transfer of bacteria
a) Wash your hands frequently and wash them well. This means washing your hands medical style:
- before starting work
- before handling food
- after using the toilet
- after handling raw food and raw food packaging
- after touching bins or handling waste
- after every break
- after eating and drinking
- after cleaning
- after handling cash
- and after blowing your nose
NB: For a step-by-step guide to medical style handwashing techniques click here
b) Dry your hands after washing them with clean towels, preferably using disposable paper towels
c) Minimise contact with raw food by using kitchen utensils instead of hands where possible
d) Maintain personal cleanliness levels by showering regularly
e) Change into clean clothes before starting work, do not wear these clothes outside of food preparation areas
f) Keep fingernails short as they collect dirt and bacteria and could break into food
g) Do not wear jewellery as this could fall into food or transmit unpleasant bodily fluids
Avoid use of toiletries
a) Do not wear perfume or aftershave as the strong smell could taint the flavour of the food you are preparing
b) The same counts for the use of hand creams that could be in contact with food or strong smelling body lotion
c) No nail varnish should be worn as this could chip into food
Use approved kitchen wear
a) Protective clothing should be worn at all times: hairnets, aprons and kitchen shoes
b) Rubber gloves can be worn, for example they may be good to use when handling raw meat, but they should never be considered as an alternative to hand washing and should be disposed of regularly to avoid cross contamination. Rubber gloves can in fact also cause allergies for the food handlers so it is not always the most hygiene friendly option
c) Kitchen shoes should be sanitised in a bath before stepping into the kitchen
Avoid spreading germs and bacteria
a) Illness of any sort, including nausea, vomiting, abdominal cramps, fever, dizziness should be taken seriously and requires 48 hours of time off work
b) Wounds and skin conditions should be covered so that they cannot come into contact with food or kitchen utensils. This includes cuts, scrapes, boils, sores, eczema and other fungus based skin conditions.
c) Avoid the transfer of bodily fluids, including perspiration and sneezing, by preventing them from spreading. Cough or sneeze into tissues, dispose of them and then wash your hands.
Establishing a firm set of personal hygiene rules for all staff within your establishment ensures that they have no excuse for violating them and provides legal evidence of your due diligence to protect your customers.
If you need support in attaining a 5-star food hygiene rating, or you need extra help in embedding your health & safety policies call us now on 01279 620866.