Food Handlers Require Skills and Knowledge

Follow workplace hygiene proceduresAll food handlers need to know how the work they do can affect the safety of the food.

Australian Food Safety Standard 3.2.2 (Food Safety Practices and General Requirements) requires that people who handle food, and the people who supervise them, have the skills and knowledge in food safety and food hygiene for the work they do.

People who handle food refer to anyone who is involved in any activity that involves food, or surfaces likely to come in contact with food.  This means people involved in food:

  • Manufacturing;

  • Processing;

  • Preparing – such as chopping, cooking, thawing

  • Delivering and transporting;

  • Packing; and

  • Those who clean tableware and equipment that comes in contact with food

Food handlers need the skills and knowledge required to keep food safe for the jobs they carry out in the business.  However, they do not need skills and knowledge for all of the jobs in the business.  For example, a cook will need skills and knowledge in food safety and food hygiene that are quite different from those needed by a waitress or a dish-washer.

If food handlers do different work from time to time, such as taking over the duties of other food handlers when they are away, or if they supervise other food handlers, then they must also have the skills and knowledge needed for this work.

There are two broad categories of skills and knowledge required by food handlers:

1. General practices

  • Personal hygiene practices that all food handlers preparing food know and put into practice;

  • Food handling practices to prepare and store food correctly; and

  • Hygiene practices to ensure the food premises and equipment are clean and well-maintained.

2. Specific practices

  • Skills and knowledge needed for more specific food handling operations, such as receiving food into premises, cooking, reheating, cooling and disposal of food.

It is good practice for food businesses to ensure that before anyone is allowed to start work as a food handler,

they should at least receive oral or written instruction in the essentials of food hygiene. Staff need to know their food safety responsibilities.