Personal Hygiene

Good personal hygiene of each food service worker is important to good food handling practice. Improper handwashing is known to be the number one cause of foodborne illness in Washington State.

Food service workers must wash their hands with warm water at approved handwashing sinks using the following procedure:

  • Wet hands
  • Apply soap and scrub vigorously for 10-15 seconds, paying particular attention to fingertips and the areas under the fingernails and between the fingers
  • Rinse thoroughly 
  • Dry thoroughly using a paper towel or approved drying device
  • Use a paper towel to turn off the sink after drying your hands to avoid re-contamination 

This process should take at least 20 seconds, which is the time it takes to sing happy birthday twice, the ABCs once, or even the chorus of Dolly Parton’s Jolene.

Food service workers must wash hands:

  • Before starting to work
  • During work as necessary to prevent contamination of foods (i.e. after handling money, touching hair, sneezing, etc.)
  • After handling unclean items
  • After handling raw meat, poultry, seafood or shellfish
  • After using the restroom (must wash twice, once in restroom and again in kitchen)
  • After eating or smoking
  • Before handling ready-to-eat Foods

Food service workers are required to use utensils to handle ready-to-eat foods (i.e. tongs, spoons, tissues, foil, gloves). No bare hand contact of ready-to-eat foods.

In addition to proper handwashing, food service workers must maintain a high degree of personal cleanliness by:

  • Wearing clean clothes
  • Keeping clean, trimmed fingernails; painted or artificial nails must be covered by a glove
  • Covering wounds and sores on hands and wrists with a bandage and glove
  • Restraining hair as necessary
  • Removing all hand and wrist jewelry before starting work; a wedding ring may be worn as long as it is covered by a glove

Employee Health

Employees must report to a person in charge if they are experiencing diarrhea, vomiting, sore throat with fever, or jaundice, or if they have been diagnosed with the following illnesses: Norovirus, Hepatitis A virus, Shigella, Shiga toxin-producing Escherichia Coli, Salmonella Typhi (Typhoid fever), or Salmonella (nontyphoidal).

Employee Health and Personal Hygiene Handbook (PDF)