hand washing

Hand Washing Techniques

Personal hygiene is an integral part of preparing and serving safe food. Neatness,

cleanliness and maintaining hygiene is expected in every food and hospitality

establishment. Employers and staff have a legal and moral obligation to protect their

clients from becoming ill, following the consumption of their products.


Did you know that it is an offence to work in the kitchen or handle food if you are carrying or suffering from a disease that can be transmitted through food?


Pathogens can be carried on skin and hair, so it is essential that there is a high

standard of personal cleanliness and proper sanitation practices. It is vital that

employers communicate proper hygiene standards, such as clean hair, body and

clothing, prior to employment, and employers should uphold these standards with

periodic training.


Pathogens can also be carried internally. If a staff member is affected, or has been

exposed to, a communicable disease such as flu, respiratory problems, diarrhoea etc.

They should not be allowed to work in any area where food or food ingredients can be

contaminated. No staff should be allowed to smoke, eat or drink while handling food. Smoking,

eating or drinking will lead to staff members touching their face and mouths, whereby

harmful bacteria can be spread to their hands and then onto food. One of the easiest and most effective ways of demonstrating good hygiene practices are frequent hand washing.


Frequent hand washing with proper hand washing techniques will remove harmful bacteria, such as E. coli and Salmonella, and viruses. Hands should be washed as often as necessary, especially when entering the kitchen and between all tasks. For different hand washing techniques, follow the steps listed in the image above.


All cuts, wounds and open sores must be kept covered with a waterproof bandage or plaster. Finger nails should be kept short, neat and clean and be free from polish and false nails. Harmful bacteria can get caught under long fingernails and will be transfer to food during preparation.


Is it okay to use gloves?  The problem with gloves lies in situations where staff are not given proper food safety training. Often staff will perceive gloves as a barrier to food contamination, and carry out many non-food related tasks (e.g. handling money, emptying bins etc.) and go back to preparing food wearing the same pair of gloves. Gloves also tend to give off a false sense of security. Staff will not wash their hands often enough if they use gloves. Wearing gloves for a prolonged period without frequent hand washing allows bacteria on the skin to grow and multiply in the warm moist environment of the gloves.


For further questions on kitchen cleanliness, enquire with Food Consulting Services.