Proper hygiene practices are essential for jobs in the food service industry. Hygiene practices include procedures for hair, hands and nails, and germ prevention. Dishwashers are usually not involved with food handling, but they may occasionally do some food preparation. As a result of dishwashers must adhere to proper hygiene and food safety standards.
In certain cases if you do some food preparation (e.g., prepares salad, desserts, or ladles soup), then headgear is required. It’s important to wear headgear properly. It should cover all the hair, keeping hair off the forehead and the back of the neck.
Hands and Nails
Hands become contaminated very easily, and they must be cleaned often and well to prevent the spread of germs. Hand washing is the most effective means to prevent the spread of communicable diseases.
Don’t forget to clean your fingernails. Dirt trapped under fingernails requires more cleaning than standard hand washing.
- Use a personal nylon brush to clean under your nails
- Maintain trimmed nails to help them stay clean.
- Avoid nail polish to prevent it from chipping and falling into food.
- Protect and care for hangnails to prevent infection.
Dishwashers must wash their hands when necessary and wash them well. Wash your hands:
- Before you start your shift.
- Before handling food, cleaning dishes, and utensils.
- Anytime your hands get dirty or contaminated with germs or other types of food—especially after cleaning and taking out the trash.
Common ways hands become contaminated:
• Handling raw foods
• Clearing tables
• Handling dirty dishes
• Handling garbage
• Cleaning and mopping
• Handling bottoms of boxes
• Handling money
Using the Bathroom
The most important thing a food service worker can do is to wash their hands properly after using the toilet or urinal. Exceedingly high levels of microorganisms and pathogens can be spread through fecal matter or urine. Toilet paper does not prevent germs from spreading to hands. There are microorganisms that are so small they can pass through the toilet paper. Hepatitis A outbreaks have been spread this way. The virus is found in feces in high numbers a week or two before symptoms become obvious.
Lapses in personal hygiene can cause widespread contamination.
Nose or Mouth Contact
Each time you touch your mouth or nose, you potentially contaminate your fingers and hands. When you touch your nose or mouth, wash your hands immediately. To ensure that you do not transfer microorganisms to your fingers and hands, you should avoid the following:
- Biting your fingernails
- Licking your fingers to pick things up, like paper
- Smoothing your hair, beard, or mustache
- Touching your nose
Sneezing or Coughing
Coughing and sneezing sends microorganisms like Staphylococcus aureus into the air. They also land on surfaces where they can contaminate anything that comes in contact with those surfaces. Trap sneezes or coughs with tissue paper and wash your hands at the hand sink immediately after. Keep in mind that microorganisms are so small they can pass through the tissue and onto your hands.
Do not use a cloth handkerchief to avoid re-contaminating your hands. All food contaminated by a sneeze or cough requires immediate disposal. Any food in contact with a surface contaminated by a sneeze or cough also require immediate cleaning and sanitizing.
How to wash your hands properly
When to Use Gloves
If you have a cut/infection on your hand, wearing a bandage and a glove is mandatory to cover any wound until the cut/infection heals. A bandage with a glove prevents the spread of pathogens in the event the bandage gets wet and dirty.
Working in the food industry requires a great deal of dedication to hard work and cleanliness. The safety of food depends on the practices of food handlers. Be sure to work your job as a dishwasher with these practices in mind, and you will be the best at your job.
Thanks again to the Food Safety Guide: A Guide for Ontario’s Foodhandlers for the wonderful illustrations and source information on hygiene, dish washing techniques, and more.
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