What Can Happen When Bare Hands Contact Ready To Eat Food


As a general rule, bare hand contact with ready-to-eat food should be avoided by all food service employees. The potential for food contamination by food handlers has been realized on far too many occasions. Bacteria from infected employees can be transferred from the nose or mouth to the hands and then to the food. Cuts and sores may contain harmful toxins and bacteria, which can be transferred to food.

Example: a sandwich maker has a draining infection on her hand. Bacteria for the wound can contaminate the food. She should wear gloves when she is preparing the sandwich, adding the meat, lettuce and tomato, etc. to it. The sandwich should not be handled by other employees such as a cashier, server, or beverage server unless they wash their hands first and wear clean gloves.

Example: A roving supervisor or manager who fills in at various positions such as taking orders, accepting money, making sandwiches, or cooking must follow all handwashing requirements and avoid bare hand contact with ready-to-eat food. He must use tongs or other utensils to handle the food.

Example: A food handler who has the responsibility of making salads or toast, cutting fruit, filling bread baskets, cutting pies, cakes, and other desserts must avoid bare hand contact with these foods by using tongs, tissues or other utensils. He should wash his hands first.

Example: When a customers requests that the remains of a meal be placed in a ‘to go box’, the server must avoid all bare hand contact with the food. Use a utensil to place the food in the box.

Example: When food is being prepared, microorganisms from raw eggs or meat such as poultry or hamburger can get on the bare hands of the cook. If cooked food is touched by the bare hands of the food preparer, the microorganisms can be transferred, contaminating it.

Example: When there is a small operation, a single employee is responsible for taking orders, preparing the food, and serving it. He must avoid bare hand contact with the food by using utensils or gloves. He must wash his hands between each order.

Food servers should be specifically prohibited from touching ready-to-eat food with their bare hands. This is because servers have more contact with the customers, their dirty dishes, and soiled surfaces during their work. Sometimes it is not feasible for them to wash their hands after each activity, making their use of a utensil necessary when handling ready-to-eat food. Tongs, forks, scoops, tissues, or gloves become necessary for food servers.

No matter what the work situation, every employee must wash his hands thoroughly after every trip to the bathroom. Good handwashing technique must be followed. Most food borne illnesses can be prevented through proper food preparation, storage, strict cleanliness of the facility, and good handwashing by the employees.

Soap dispensers and paper towel dispensers must be available in strategic spots in the kitchen and all restrooms. They must be fully functional and contain adequate soap and towels. A full line of handwashing supplies for restaurants and food service facilities is available at www.u-need-it.com.

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