Being a food handler is not an easy job. While on the job, you are expected to manage multiple responsibilities like attending to managers, other employees, and of course customers. It is your job as a food handler to meet those responsibilities and keep the food you serve safe. One of the most important aspects of food safety is understanding what you should and should not wear in the kitchen.

Are Food Handlers Allowed to Wear Jewelry?

In the United States, food handlers are not allowed to wear jewellery. This is a strict rule because food handlers cannot wash their hands effectively if they are wearing jewellery on their hands and wrists. But you can wear a gold ring or stainless steel bracelet. But diamond is toxic to food.

You can also use bronze, silver, or copper jewellery because these metals are safe for food. Moreover, jewellery, such as bracelets, watches, and rings, may fall into food, causing a physical hazard. For all these purposes, jewellery must never be worn when working around the kitchen.

Food handlers are not allowed to wear any rings besides a plain band such as a wedding ring. Food handlers are also not allowed to wear rings with stones implanted in them as those are a major potential food contaminant and choking hazard.

However, if gloves will be worn or placed over the ring, then a simple band ring may be used while making meals. Similar to rings, only simple stud earrings are generally allowed to be worn by food handlers. Anything that hangs or dangles is not only a potential hazard to customers but also to the food handler by it being caught in machinery.

It is vital that good standards of personal hygiene are maintained by food handlers. Contaminated hands will spread bacteria around a kitchen very quickly. To prevent cross contamination of food, it is essential to wash your hands frequently and stick to all food safety regulations.

Top Hygiene Tips for Food Handlers

Practicing good personal hygiene is very crucial to food safety, especially for food handlers. It will help prevent physical and biological hazards from entering an establishment and contaminating food. Here basic hygiene practices that should be followed while handling food to ensure safety:

  1. Have a clean uniform

The aim here is quite simple: to bring in as few pathogens as possible to work. Your uniform could contain a variety of pathogens, especially if it is dirty. So it is imperative that you wash it often and wear a clean uniform at each shift. Also remember to bathe before each shift to reduce the number of pathogens you carry. Doing these simple steps will help keep pathogens from coming with you to work.

  1. Wash your hands

Always remember that your hands contain millions of bacteria and viruses that can easily spread to food. So to help keep the pathogens from spreading to food, you should wash your hands often. Also note there are some specific times you should wash your hands, but you should always wash them whenever you think they could be contaminated. Some activities where you should wash your hands include after using the restroom, after taking a break, after switching tasks, before beginning a new task, and after touching your hair or face.

  1. Wear gloves (and change them regularly)

Before putting on a pair of gloves, you should wash your hands. Once you put on your gloves, do not to touch your hair, face, or other surfaces that could contaminate them. Have it in mind that whatever you touch could have pathogens on them and those pathogens could get into the food you prepare, even if you are wearing gloves. Additionally, if your gloves are torn or you have been wearing them for 4 hours, wash your hands and put on a new pair of gloves.

  1. Wear a hair covering

Note that your hair can create both a physical and biological hazard. If a customer finds a hair in their food, they will more or less not return to the establishment. Putting on hair covering, such as a hair net, visor, or cap, will help keep hairs from falling into the food you prepare. If you are serving food, you may not be required to wear a hair restraint. However, if you have long hair it is a good idea to pull it back to keep your hair from falling or dangling into the food.

  1. Keep fingernails clean and trimmed

Our fingernails can easily trap dirt and pathogens. Owing to this, fingernails are meant to be kept short and clean. When washing your hands, always take time to scrub underneath your fingernails. This helps remove the dirt that could be trapped underneath your nails. If a food worker chooses to wear nail polish or artificial nails, gloves are expected to be worn whenever they are working with food. This will help prevent the nail polish from chipping or an artificial nail from falling into the food.

  1. Beware of jewellery

Just like it was stated above, pathogens can get trapped under jewellery, which creates a biological hazard. Additionally, jewellery, such as bracelets, watches, and rings, could fall into food, creating a physical hazard. Jewellery should never be worn when working with food for these reasons. Employees, however, may wear a plain metal ring, such as a wedding band.

  1. No eating, drinking, and smoking

Have it in mind that when you eat, drink, or smoke your hands spend a lot of time near your mouth. The pathogens in your mouth could contaminate the food you are preparing if you do these activities around food. When you do eat, drink, or smoke, use a break room or another place to avoid contaminating food.

Conclusion

Harmful bacteria can spread very easily from people’s hands to food, work surfaces, equipment etc. Food handlers should not wear watches or jewellery when preparing food (except a plain wedding band). Watches and jewellery can collect and spread dirt and harmful bacteria, and fall into the food. Note that good personal hygiene can help your business. Follow these principles to help keep you, your establishment, and your customers safe.

Joy Nwokoro