(Safety, Training, Resources, and Education to Combat Hunger)
Food Safety Information Sheet No. 10
Wash Your Hands!
Food handlers must be fanatical when it comes to handwashing. Dirty hands, dirty
fingernails and food are a hazardous combination. Bacteria that can cause illness
are often present on hands and can easily be transferred to food. To prevent contamination,
food handlers must wash their hands before beginnin work, and after any of the following
- Using the restroom
- Using a handkerchief or tissue
- Handling raw food -- particularly meat and poultry
- Touching areas of the body, such as ears, mouth, nose, or hair, or scratching anywhere
on the body
- Touching any infected place on the body
- Touching unclean equipment and work surfaces, soiled clothing, or wash rags
- Smoking or using chewing tobacco
- Clearing away and scraping used dishes and utensils; performing kitchen cleaningoperations
- Eating food or drinking beverages
Proper handwashing greatly cuts down on the spread of germs and bacteria. To wash
hands properly, you must:
- Use liquid soap and hot water
- Wash for at least 20-60 seconds
- Be sure to clean between fingers and under nails
- Rinse hands well
- Dry with a single use towel or hot air drier, where permissible
- Turn faucet handle off with paper toweling
Be sure that you don't recontaminate your hands after washing. For example, if you
wash your hands in the bathroom, use a paper towel to open the door. That way you
won't run the risk of picking up bacteria left by the last visitor.
Keep It Covered!
Bacteria can also be transferred to food from dirty clothes or from hair. Bacteria
from soiled clothing can get into food when a worker touches his clothing and then
touches food. Hair and dandruff can fall into food and contaminate it with large
numbers of bacteria. Simple steps like bathing or showering before working with
food can help. Remember to:
Keep It Cold Or Hot!
- Wear clean clothes or a clean apron
- Wear a hair restraint or head covering (some acceptable hair restraints include:
a clean hat or cap, hair net, headbands, or barrettes).
- Workers with a beard should wear a beard restraint.
Microorganisms that cause food poisoning or speed food spoilage grow rapidly in
the "Danger Zone" between 40 degrees and 140 degrees F. Make sure that food remains
at the proper temperature during service to ensure safety and quality. Use a thermometer
to check that the internal temperature of the food being served stays at a safe
- cold foods below 40 degrees F
- hot foods above 140 degrees F (check with your State Health Department for the temperature
- regulations in your area as this can vary from state to state)
The following suggestions will help you keep food at the proper temperature during
Keep It Protected!
- Divide large pans of food into smaller pans. Place one pan on the service table
at a time. Keep the remaining pans in the refrigerator or the oven. Replace as necessary.
(Never add fresh food to a partially empty pan, bacteria in the old food will quickly
contaminate the fresh food. Replace the entire pan.)
- Use a steam table or chaffing dishes with Sterno to keep food hot.
- Keep cold foods on a bed of ice.
Covering the food between clients serves a double purpose, it not only keeps contaminants
from falling into the food, it also keeps the food at the correct temperature by
retaining heat or cold. Choose serving dishes with lids, or cover with aluminum
Clean And Sanitize It!
Bacteria that cause food poisoning are everywhere. Cleanliness is absolutely essential
in preventing foodborne illness. Even though you are busy, you must regularly wash,
rinse and sanitize the work area utensils, and pots and pans to control the spread
of bacteria and microorganisms. Cleaning removes soil and food particles from a
surface. Sanitizing reduces the number of microorganisms. Both steps are essential.
- Wash in hot water (120°F)
- Use a good detergent
- Use a brush or cloth to remove soil
- Rinse in clean water
- Air dry
- Use commercial chemical sanitizing solution or chlorine bleach
- Follow manufacturer's instructions for use of commercial sanitizing solution.
- Use chlorine bleach as follows:
Sanitizing with Chlorine Bleach
Pots, pans, glasses, dishes, and utensils
1/4 cup bleach
4 gallons warm water
(75 - 110 oF)
Soak for 1 minute
Tables, counters, food processing equipment
1 T bleach
1 gallon warm water
(75 - 110 oF
Certain diseases can be readily transmitted through food. Assign workers with any
of the followingn illnesses or symptoms to non-food handling tasks or ask them to
return to work when they are well.
- Salmonella typhi
- Shigella spp.
- Escherichia coli 0157:H7
- Hepatitis A virus infection
- abdominal cramps
- loss of appetite for 3 consecutive days
- boil or infected wound that is open or draining