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Health and hygiene - advice for food handlers

Making sure you don't contaminate food through illness or unclean habits is important to keep food safe to eat.

    Under Standard 3.2.2 - Food Safety Practices and General Requirements, you need to ensure food is safe and suitable to eat.

    Be clean and careful

    It's easy to practise good hygiene and make it a good habit. Always ensure you're:

    • washing your hands with soap and drying them thoroughly
    • stopping hair, clothes, jewellery or phone touching food or surfaces - for example tie your hair back, remove loose jewellery, cover open sores
    • not touching ready-to-eat food with your bare hands - use tongs or gloves
    • wearing clean clothing and aprons
    • not eating, spitting, smoking, sneezing, blowing or coughing over food or surfaces that food touches.
    You need to tell your supervisor if you think you are sick or have contaminated food in any way.

    Wash your hands properly

    You must be thorough when washing your hands. We've got tips to help you ensure you're doing it properly:

    • only use the sink provided just for hand washing
    • wet your hands under warm running water
    • lather them with soap, thoroughly scrub fingers, palms, wrists, back of hands and under nails for at least 15 seconds
    • rinse hands under warm running water
    • thoroughly dry your hands with a single-use towel or hand dryer machine.

    When to wash your hands

    You must always wash your hands:

    • before you start handling food or go back to handling food after other tasks
    • before working with ready-to-eat food after handling raw food
    • after using the toilet
    • after smoking, coughing, sneezing, using a handkerchief or tissue, eating or drinking
    • after touching your hair, scalp, nose, on so on
    • after doing anything else that could make your hands dirty, like handling garbage, touching animals or children, or cleaning duties.

    If you're sick

    Some illnesses can pass to people through food. These are foodborne illnesses such as gastro and hepatitis A.

    If you know or think you have a foodborne illness, for example if you have diarrhoea or fever you must:

    • tell your supervisor
    • stop handling food as it's likely to become contaminated
    • only return to food handling when a doctor says you're well enough, usually 48 hours after symptoms stop.

    More information


    Page last updated 6 December 2023