Hand Washing Guidelines

Proper hand washing is critical for all employees involved with food preparation to prevent contamination. Thorough hand washing is done by vigorously rubbing together the surfaces of lathered hands and arms for at least 20 seconds followed by a thorough rinse with clean water. Use a single-service towel or hot air dryer to dry hands. No special soaps are needed.

Proper Hand Washing Steps

Handwashing Steps

Why shouldn’t I touch food with bare hands?

Most states food codes prohibit bare hand contact with ready-to-eat foods and requires good hand washing by food service workers.

When am I required to wash my hands?

Generally, foodservice employees are required to wash hands before starting work or putting on single-use gloves and after: 1) touching raw, fresh, or frozen beef, poultry, fish, or meat, 2) mopping, sweeping, removing garbage, or using the telephone, 3) using the bathroom, smoking, eating, sneezing, or drinking, or 4) touching anything that might result in contamination of hands.

What kinds of foods may not be touched with bare hands?

  • Prepared fresh fruits and vegetables served raw
  • Salads and salad ingredients
  • Cold meats and sandwiches
  • Bread, toast, and baked good
  • Garnishes such as: lettuce, parsley, lemon wedges, potato chips or pickles
  • Fruit or vegetables for mixed drinks
  • Ice served to the customer
  • Any food that will not be thoroughly cooked or reheated after it is prepared

What can I do with a ready-to-eat food item if it was touched with bare hands?

You can either heat the food thoroughly to the temperature required for cooking or reheating, or discard the food, if it was touched with bare hands.

Note: Regulations vary from state to state. Contact your local health department or consult your state’s food code for more information.

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