Developing a food safety culture at work essentially means for employees and management to virtually eat, sleep and breathe food safety at work. Everything you do is governed by the desire to lift up food safety and sanitation, every day, every shift, together in a positive way.
Consistent positive behaviors around food safety and sanitation comprise a strong food safety program, and is an expression of the food safety culture in a foodservice operation.
Hand hygiene is one important area to consider when working to implement a food safety culture at work. A 2016 study of health department inspections showed that 13.2% of establishments had inadequate or inaccessible handwashing sinks, and 13% of restaurants had handwashing violations. More than half of restaurants outbreaks in the U.S. have been linked to poor hand hygiene or ill food workers*. They can contaminate food, equipment and work surfaces with microorganisms, with risk of potential foodborne illness.
Raise the food safety culture in your operation with these hand hygiene tips:
Handwashing and Glove Usage
- Make sure hand sinks are conveniently located and stocked with soap and paper towels
- Have adequate supplies of gloves
- Change gloves often - when soiled or damaged, after 4 hours of continuous use, between raw and ready-to-eat foods
- Avoid bare hand contact with ready to eat foods - wear gloves or use utensils instead, as directed by your local regulation
- Exclude employees from work if ill with vomiting or diarrhea, until they have been symptom-free for 24 hours or as directed by your local regulations
- Bandage cuts, sores, wounds, then cover with glove or clothing
- First aid kits available and accessible to employees
- Have employees report any foodborne illness to manager
Reinforce Good Behaviors
- Management modeling proper handwashing behaviors and glove usage and staying home when ill
- Employee training - stressing an understanding between dirty hands and gloves, ill food workers, and their potential to transmit microorganisms/hazards
- Posters and wall charts to help keep handwashing, proper glove use a priority
- Ongoing evaluations and corrective actions provided during routine audits to employees
- Train employees on illness prevention procedures and communicate illness policy to all
- Food Employee Reporting Agreement for all employees
Modeling proper behaviors by management is important for employees to learn and value these hygienic practices themselves. Positive reinforcement of good habits can lead to long-term behavioral changes, and sustain the food safety culture in your operation.By Cindy Rice, FS, CP-FS,MSPH
*Gould, et al. 2013 JFP 76(11):1824