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Personal Hygiene

The most important way to prevent food poisoning is to wash your hands properly.

Personal hygiene is defined as:

  • Keeping the body, including the hair and especially the hands, clean
  • Avoiding poor personal hygiene habits
  • Wearing clean, protective outer clothing and appropriate headgear

Why is personal hygiene important?

  • It prevents food poisoning/contamination
  • To comply with the law
  • Appearance

When should hands be washed?


  • Starting work
  • Handling food, especially if cooked or ready-to-eat, as the product will receive no further treatment to eradicate bacteria
  • Changing from one job to another, e.g. between handling money and preparing food.

And after

  • Using the toilet
  • Handling raw meat
  • Sneezing, coughing, blowing your nose
  • Touching eyes, nose, face, hair, mouth, cuts
  • Smoking, coffee/lunch breaks and cleaning duties
  • Handling money or waste

Poor personal hygiene practices

  • Smoking, coughing/sneezing over food, nail biting, nose picking and finger tasting are all poor personal hygiene practices.
  • If a food worker has an open sore or cut, they must cover this with a brightly coloured  plaster - the bright colour is easier to see if it falls into food.
  • Food workers must report all instances of diarrhoea, vomiting and skin infections to a supervisor before returning to work and must not work while suffering from these symptoms. The employee must receive medical clearance before returning to work.

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