Stand-Up Training: Food Worker Personal Hygiene

eating lunch with local Thai office workers
eating lunch with local Thai office workers

Empower Employees Through Food Safety Training

Good personal hygiene helps prevent contamination when working with food. Washing your hands, putting on gloves, and wearing appropriate clothing are all part of good personal hygiene.

Learning Objectives

You may choose to read these learning objectives with your employees as a part of the stand-up training.

After this training, employees will be able to:

  • Practice proper personal hygiene standards
  • Recognize inappropriate personal wear (jewelry, fake nails, etc.)
  • Use personal protective equipment (PPE) to prevent potential food hazards
  • Comply with company dress code and uniform guidelines

The Facts

You may choose to read these facts with your employees as a part of the stand-up training.

  • Regular handwashing is the most important thing food workers can do to keep food safe from hazards.
  • If food, drinks, gum, or tobacco are used in or around food preparation areas, there is a high risk of contamination on food and surfaces.
  • Jewelry on the hands or wrists can trap food particles and germs that can create a biological hazard.
  • When working with food, your employees should always wear a hair net, visor, or hat to keep loose hairs from falling into food. That includes a beard net for workers with facial hair.
  • Food workers should never cover a cough or sneeze with their hands while at work. They should cough or sneeze into the crook of their elbow or shoulder and wash their hands afterwards.
  • Food workers must change their gloves when switching tasks, taking a break, taking out the garbage, or after four hours of use. Bacteria can multiply to dangerous levels in four hours.
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Training Activities

Choose the activities that will be most beneficial for your employees. Modify them as needed to fit the training needs of your establishment.

Policy Review

Teach: Review the employee dress code and uniform guidelines. Next, explain your establishment’s policy about eating and drinking while working. Teach your employees that any time they eat or drink, small amounts of saliva or spit spray out of their mouths and onto the surfaces around them. These particles can easily contaminate food and food-contact surfaces. Tell employees where and when they can eat or drink while they are at work, and make sure they are not chewing gum or using tobacco in food preparation areas.

Discuss: How does the dress code help keep you and our customers safe? Why is cross-contamination so dangerous in a food establishment? How does good hygiene prevent cross-contamination? As needed, help your employees define cross-contamination.

When Should I Change My Gloves?

Discuss: When should you change your gloves and why? Teach employees that changing their gloves frequently helps prevent cross-contamination. Make sure all of the following times are mentioned:

  • After working with raw meat
  • When switching from one food to another
  • When switching tasks
  • After taking out the garbage
  • After taking a break
  • After four hours of constant use (since bacteria can multiply to dangerous levels in this time)
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Demonstrate: Ask for a volunteer to demonstrate the proper way to change gloves, or demonstrate it yourself.

Teach: Explain that gloves are one part of their PPE (personal protective equipment). Hair nets and aprons are also considered PPE. Make sure all employees know how to wear hair nets and aprons properly. You may also want to explain that additional PPE may be required to clean up hazardous spills such as chemicals or vomit.

Fake Sneeze

Demonstrate: Ask an employee to demonstrate how to cough or sneeze in the crook of their elbow or shoulder, or demonstrate it yourself. Make sure you also demonstrate washing your hands and changing your gloves after a cough or sneeze.

Discuss: How does coughing or sneezing into your shoulder or elbow help reduce the risk of spreading harmful bacteria or viruses?

Following Up

Employee hygiene plays an important role in a health inspection. The FDA recommends health inspectors monitor your employees to make sure they’re practicing good hygiene. That includes hand hygiene, personal hygiene, eating and drinking in safe areas, and adhering to the dress code, which may include wearing PPE.

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Follow up with your employees to make sure they are following personal hygiene guidelines. Praise employees for dressing appropriately and wearing PPE correctly. If you notice employees who aren’t practicing good personal hygiene, give them clear instructions on what they should do differently.

Train your supervisors to watch for unsafe hygiene practices, such as coughing or sneezing incorrectly, so they can help correct food workers’ habits. Display a notice stating what employees may wear and what they must avoid.

As needed, review this training with your employees.

Training Resources

Play the How Soap Works video clip to explain why soap is so effective at removing dirt and pathogens from your hands.

Show the Garnished with Norovirus video to remind food handlers how poor personal hygiene can contribute to food contamination. It also shows the importance of wearing gloves.

Did you use this stand-up training in your establishment? We’d love to get your feedback! Take a minute to do our feedback survey.

— Rob Cramer

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