Frequently asked questions: hygiene for food handlers

Follow workplace hygiene proceduresThis week’s blog outlines some of the most frequently asked questions by Food Handlers.

Do I have to wear hairnets, hats or gloves to handle food?                                                           

No. Hairnets and gloves are not mandatory requirements of food legislation. However, food handlers are required to prevent food from being contaminated by anything from their body (e.g. hair, fingernails, bandaids, jewellery etc). Hairnets, hats and gloves may be the most effective means to prevent contamination, depending on the nature of your food handling activities.

Are the kitchen and other areas (e.g. cool rooms) restricted to access only by food handlers?

There is no restriction of access in Queensland’s legislation.  However, any person who enters a food premises has a responsibility to ensure they do not contaminate food or act in a way that may cause food to become unsafe or unsuitable. This includes how they store their food (e.g. if they put their lunch in the cool room), not sitting on benches, not smoking, spitting, etc. and not handling food unless they have appropriate skills and knowledge to do so.

Can I use bleach to clean my benches?

Chlorine bleach is acceptable chemical bleach for use in sanitising food contact surfaces and utensils.

Can I accept a product with broken packaging?

No. The Food Safety Standards specify that you must only accept food that is protected from the likelihood of contamination. Food receipt is the first point that you have real control over the safety of food. When you receive food in broken packaging, you cannot be sure that it has not been contaminated, and should be returned to the supplier.

How do I check the temperature of packaged foods (e.g. milk, packaged frozen chickens)?

It is not expected that the temperature of these items be measured by breaking the packaging at the point of food receipt by Food Handlers. This may lead to issues of contamination if undertaken outside in a delivery area. The most appropriate method is to place your thermometer between two packages (e.g. between 2 bottles of milk). If this method is used, it may take a slightly longer period for your thermometer to adjust and provide an accurate temperature.