Personal Hygiene

Good personal hygiene is absolutely necessary to prevent the spread of food-borne illness. The following items are mandatory components of good hygiene.

  1. Hand washing:  Proper and frequent hand washing is probably the most important defense to the spread of food-borne illness.
  2. Proper work clothing:   Food handlers must wear clean outer clothing to prevent contamination of food, equipment, and utensils.
  3. Fingernails:  Food handlers must keep their fingernails trimmed, filed and maintained so the edges and surfaces are cleanable and not rough. Food employees may not wear fingernail polish or artificial fingernails.
  4. Jewelry on hands:   Except for a plain ring such as a wedding band, food employees may not wear jewelry including medical information jewelry on their hands.
  5. Eating, drinking or using tobacco:  To reduce the risk of contaminating food, utensils and equipment, food employees must only eat, drink or use tobacco in designated areas.
    • Eating by employees may only occur in the employee break area
    • Beverages for employees must remain in the employee break area
  6. Cuts, wounds, sores on hands:   Food handlers will notify the manager and completely cover the affected area with a waterproof bandage. Additionally, single-use gloves or finger cots should be worn over any bandages on the hands.
  7. Sick employees:   Food handlers must notify their manager immediately if suffering from: diarrhea, vomiting, jaundice, fever, or sore throat with fever. Ill employees may be sent home or assigned to duties that minimize the potential for contaminating food and equipment.

Cross Contamination

Cross contamination is when microorganisms are transferred from one food or surface to another. The personal hygiene requirements are all designed to avoid cross contamination.

There are other causes of cross contamination as well. For example, in the refrigerators, the proper storing of raw food below cooked ready-to-eat food so that the raw food does not touch or drip fluids onto ready-to-eat foods. Also keeping work surfaces and especially food-contact-surfaces such as the grill board cleaned and sanitized.

Initial hand washing followed by frequent hand washing, and hand washing at appropriate times, is especially important to avoid cross contamination. For example, hand washing must occur after touching raw foods (such as raw eggs), and before touching ready-to-eat foods, (such as toast or lettuce).

Hand Washing Procedures

Proper and frequent hand washing is an important defense to cross contamination and therefore the spread of food-borne illness.

Image of Hand Washing

Where to Wash Hands

Wash hands in a hand wash sink. If the hand sink is not stocked with soap and paper towels, refill these items from inventory or notify your manager immediately.

When to Wash Hands

  • When you begin work
  • Before preparing food
  • When switching between raw foods and ready-to-eat foods
  • After handling dirty equipment or utensils
  • After touching soiled clothes or apron
  • After using the restroom
  • After coughing, sneezing, or using a handkerchief or tissue
  • After eating or drinking or using tobacco
  • After any activities that contaminate hands

How to Wash Hands

  1. Wet hands with hot, running water
  2. Apply soap and rub hands together for at least 20 seconds
  3. Clean under fingernails and between fingers
  4. Rinse hands thoroughly under running water
  5. Dry hands completely with a single-use paper towel

Bare Hand Contact of Ready-to-Eat Foods

Handling ready-to-eat foods with bare hands is likely to cause cross contamination.  This is why the state of Wisconsin prohibits "bare hand contact" with "ready-to-eat" foods.

However, in our fast paced operation with one cook on duty in most cases, it is impractical to never touch certain ready-to-eat foods with bare hands. Fortunately, there is a provision in the food code that allows restaurants to establish a plan for managing bare-hand-contact of certain ready-to-eat foods.

The plan must include:

  1. An overall food safety training program
  2. various hygiene procedures;
  3. proper hand washing;
  4. procedures for the exclusion or restriction of ill employees from food handling;
  5. a written bare hand contact plan approved by the state of Wisconsin or local Health Department.

Bare-hand Contact Plan

The purpose of the plan is to avoid cross-contamination of ready-to-eat foods even though you can touch certain ready-to-eat foods with bare hands.

Overview of the Plan

Image of Raw Egg1.  You may touch with bare hands the following raw foods such as raw shell eggs; frozen hamburger patties, bacon, ham, sausage; hashbrowns; chicken breasts; steaks; French fries and other fried foods (such as fish, shrimp, appetizers);  but then care must be taken with the food you touch next! 

Image of Cooked Food2. The above foods, once cooked, should not be touched with bare hands. So slide cooked eggs from the pan without touching the eggs and use utensils such as the spatula to remove and plate other foods such as pancakes, hamburger patties or anything from the grill.

Image of Washing Hands3. Wash hands after touching raw foods and before touching the following ready-to-eat foods.

Image of Uncooked Food 4.  If you have washed your hands after touching raw foods, you may touch the following ready-to-eat-foods with your bare hands (or a physical barrier such as tongs or spatulas, deli paper or gloves): toast, buns, sandwich ingredients such as bread, cheese, lettuce, raw onions and pickles.



The purpose of the bare hand contact plan is to permit the touching of certain ready-to-eat foods with bare hands in a way that you won't cross-contaminate the ready-to-eat foods.


1.  Use bare hands to touch raw foods that are going to be cooked.

2.  Use utensils, not hands, to touch cooked foods.

3.  Wash hands frequently and always after touching raw foods and before touching ready-to-eat foods.

4.  Bare hand contact is allowed (after washing hands) when touching certain ready-to-eat foods





Bare hand contact allowed

Use bare hands to handle the following items before cooking. NOTE: Tongs can be used for raw hamburger patties.

  • Raw shell eggs
  • Hamburger patties
  • Bacon, Ham, Sausage
  • Hashbrowns
  • Chicken Breasts
  • Steak
  • French Fries
  • Other fried foods (fish, shrimp, appetizers)
  • No bare hand contact allowed

    Use utensils to handle cooked:

  • Eggs & Omelets
  • Hamburger patties
  • Bacon, Ham, Sausage
  • Hashbrowns
  • Pancakes & French Toast
  • Chicken Breasts
  • Fish Fillets
  • Steak
  • French Fries
  • Other fried foods (fish, shrimp, appetizers)
  • Image of Hand Washing

    Bare hand contact allowed IF just-washed hands. (Or use a physical barrier)

    Use bare hands to touch these ready-to-eat foods, after just-washed hands (or use tongs or spatulas, deli paper or gloves):

  • Toast/Bread/Buns
  • Cheese Slices
  • Lettuce
  • Tomato Slices
  • Raw Onions
  • Pickle Slices

  • Constant Glove Use is Bad Practice

    In the past some cooks have resorted to using gloves for all their cooking activities including touching raw foods and ready-to-eat foods. This practice is counter productive because it fosters cross contamination. The best practice is frequent hand washing, and the use of utensils per the plan above.

    Bare-Hand Contact Plan Violations

    In the event you violate the bare-hand-contact plan by touching ready-to-eat foods without freshly washed hands, the ready-to-eat to eat food must be discarded.

    Additional Control Measures for Bare-Hand-Contact

    We must utilize at least two of the following additional control measures when contacting ready-to-eat food with bare hands:

    Double Hand Washing

    This means:

    1) Before leaving the restroom, wash your hands;

    2) when returning to the workstation and before beginning food handling, wash your hands again.

    Nail Brush

    A nail brush is available at the hand washing sink in order to remove dirt or bacteria from underneath your finger nails.

    Hand Antiseptics

    Hand antiseptic can reduce the number of bacteria and viruses that may remain on your hands. Wash your hands then spray your hands with hand antiseptic.

    Exclusion and Restriction of Ill Employees

    In accordance with the Exclusion and Restriction of Ill Employees policy below, employees must not work with food if there are symptoms of diarrhea, vomiting, fever and other illnesses or symptoms.

    Exclusion and Restriction of Ill Employees

    Ill food employees may unintentionally spread illness if they work while sick. To protect public health, ill food employees must either be restricted from certain food handling activities or excluded from working in food establishments.

    Employees with a foodborne illness (such as salmonella, shigella, E. coli 0157:H7 or Hepatitis A) or sudden onset of vomiting or diarrhea, must be excluded from the establishment. Employees with fever, sore throat with fever, or open/draining lesions must be excluded from working with exposed food or clean equipment, utensils, linen, and unwrapped single-service and single-use articles. If you are ill with any of the following symptoms, report to the manager:


    1. Diarrhea
    2. Fever
    3. Vomiting
    4. Jaundice (yellowish discoloration of skin, eyes or inside of mouth)
    5. Sore tshroat with fever
    6. Lesions containing pus on the hand, wrist, or an exposed body part (such as boils and infected wounds, however small)

    Time and Temperature Control of Foods

    Concepts  Image of Thermometer

    Bacteria can grow when foods enter the temperature danger zone, which is between 41F and 135F. Therefore foods should be kept completely out of the temperature danger zone or pass through the zone within as brief period of time as possible. This applies to cold holding of foods, thawing foods, cooling down foods, heating or reheating foods, and hot holding of foods.


    Cold foods must be held in the refrigerator at 41F or below for safe cold holding.

    Hot foods must be held at or above 135F for safe hot holding.

    In cooling foods down, cool from 135F to 70F within the first 2 hours. Total cooling from 135F to 41F or less in 6 hours.

    In reheating foods, bring the temperature of the food to at least 165F for at least 15 seconds within two hours. Then promptly move the food to hot holding.

    Thawing allows foods to enter the danger zone. Improper thawing can allow bacteria to rapidly grow in the outer layers while the core is still frozen. The best thawing method is to move the food from frozen storage to the cooler so it will not remain in the danger zone for not more than two hours. Never thaw food at room temperature or in warm water.

    When In Doubt, Throw it Out

    If you discover that a food has been held in the danger zone, but you're not sure how long, discard it. The rule is "When in doubt, throw it out!"

    Applying the Concepts To Our Operation

    Soups and Chili, Corned Beef Hash, and Steaks

    These are the primary concerns in our operation in terms of keeping food out of the temperature danger zone.

    Soups and Chili:  Avoid reheating these by moving directly to hot holding as soon as cooking is done. Check that the soup or chili rises to 165 F for at least 15 seconds, then move it immediately to hot holding, where you should regularly check that the temperature maintains at 135 F or above.

    If you fail to move directly to hot holding  and therefore need to re-heat the soup or chili, do it quickly (within one hour or so) to 165F for at least 15 seconds. Stir the food to be sure that all parts of it are hot. Then use your calibrated metal stem thermometer to check the temperature.

    Chili Base:  The only food we cook and then cool, is a chili base. After the chili meat is cooked thoroughly, add one gallon of cold water to the pot, cover it, date it, and move to the refrigerator. Then cover the pot, date it, and move it to the refrigerator. This method will bring the base to below 41 well within the periods specified above for cooling food.

    If you need to make chili right away, instead of refrigerating the base, skip directly to adding the other ingredients and move to the final cooking of the chili.

    Chili Meat:  The standard for thawing chili meat is to place a new frozen chili meat into the refrigerator each time you make a chili base. This way there will be fully thawed chili meat each time you need to make a base. With this method, the chili meat never enters the danger zone.

    If you discover that someone failed to take a frozen chili meat out of the freezer and into the refrigerator for thawing, thaw the safely as follows:

    1. Place the frozen chili meat in the chili pot on a low flame
    2. Begin to cook the chili by constantly attending to it and scraping off the outer thawed layer of meat with the large spoon.
    3. Complete this process within about 30-60 minutes. As the chili meat enters the danger zone, it will not remain in it for longer than about one hour which is acceptable.
    • Never thaw the chili meat under cold running water; or in warm or hot water.
    • Never thaw the chili meat in the microwave.

    Corned Beef Hash:  In thawing Corned beef hash, we partial thaw in the cooler, just enough to be able to cut it into individual portions. Then portion up and freeze again. Be sure to date mark the food container holding the portions. Never let the corned beef hash sit out at room temperature to thaw.

    Steaks:  Keep one case thawing in the refrigerator at all times, keeping all other cases frozen. In the event someone failed to place a case of steaks into the refrigerator for thawing, you can place the sealed packages of steaks in cold water for quick thawing.


    Food Temperature Safety Zone

    Keep potentially hazardous foods out of the "Danger Zone!" 41F -135F

    Image of Thermometer

    Thermometer Calibration

    Image of Stemmed Thermometer Fill a small container with ice and add water to form a slush. Insert the stem of the thermometer into the slush. The temperature should read 32F. If it doesn't, use a pliers to hold the nut on the underside of the thermometer dial in place while turning the dial until it reads 32F.

    Egg Safety - Time and Temperature as a Control

    Image of EggsRaw shell eggs are considered a potentially hazardous food, especially when kept at room temperature.

    However, due to how busy we are especially in the morning hours, we like to keep two or three trays of eggs out at room temperature. It's more convenient this way and the eggs cook better at room temperature.

    Because of this, we are use "Time as a Control" to prevent food borne illness from occurring with raw shell eggs when they are kept at room temperature.

    We must follow the following approved guideline to prevent the spread of Food borne illness.

    Holding Raw Shell Eggs at Room Temperature

    1. Full cases of eggs are to be stored in the cooler at all other times.
    2. Remove from the cooler, only enough trays of eggs to be used within four (4) hours.
    3. Any trays of eggs that are held at room temperature for more than four hours, must be discarded.

    Food Storage and Limiting Length of Storage

    First In First Out (FIFO)

    Food must stored on shelves and in refrigeration so its used in the order it was received. Therefore stock must be rotated as it's put away by placing the newest behind oldest. This is the FIFO method: First In, First Out method of food rotation.

    Date Marking

    Image of Prep Lables Any ready-to-eat potentially hazardous food must be marked with a discard date at the time of opening or preparation. These foods must have a discard date of no more than seven days after opening, cooking or preparing.

    • Desserts:  When placing desserts into the refrigerated display case, date mark each by placing a "USE BY" sticker on each wrapped piece. Add seven days to the current date.

    • Prep Bins:  When prepping foods such as omelet mixes, French Fries and other frozen items, place a "Date Prepared" sticker on the food bin.

    Cleaning and Sanitizing

    Food Contact Surfaces

    Food that comes into contact with soiled surfaces can easily become contaminated and food-borne illness can be spread.

    • Keep food contact surfaces clean and sanitized
    • Never allow soiled containers or dirty towels to touch work surfaces
    • Pay special attention to keeping cutting boards clean and sanitized.

    Wash Image of Green Bucket

    Wash tables, cutting boards and equipment with hot soapy water from the green bucket.

    Sanitize Image of Red Bucket

    Sanitize the above surfaces with a clean wiping cloth from the bleach/water sanitizing solution in the red bucket.

    Bacteria can grow very quickly in damp cloths. That is why all wiping cloths should be stored in the red bucket with chlorine/water sanitizing solution mixed to proper concentration between uses.

    Chlorine/water sanitizing solution should be between 50 and 100 parts per million (ppm) while in the red bucket. Change the bucket often and test the solution, at least every 2-3 hours depending on usage.

    Test Strips

    Image of Test Strips

    For Sanitizer Bucket

    Use the test strips found on the wall to test the concentration of the chlorine/water sanitizing solution. It's a simple process of inserting a test strip as the water comes out of the dispenser. It should read 100 ppm. In the bucket it should read between 50-100 ppm, and definitely not less than 50 ppm.

    For Dish Machine

    The dish washing machine uses bleach water to sanitize dishes and utensils. However, like all mechanical equipment it  can fail. Check the sanitizer water in the dish machine by inserting a test strip into the water immediately after the final rinse. It should test to 50 (ppm).

    Food Allergy Procedures

    Food service employees need to have some understanding of food allergies in order to protect customers who identify that they have a food a allergy and inquire about the preparation or content of a some of our foods.

    A food allergy is an abnormal response to a food triggered by the body's immune system. The allergic individual, if exposed to a particular allergen, can suffer a mild to life threatening reaction. The only control is avoidance of the particular allergen. Despite taking precautions, allergic people may be unknowingly exposed.

    Eight Major Food Allergens

    • Milk
    • Eggs
    • Fish
    • Crustacean Shellfish
    • Wheat
    • Soybeans
    • Peanuts
    • Tree Nuts

    Symptoms of Allergic Reaction

    • Loss of Consciousness
    • Shortness of Breath
    • Itching or Tingling in and around Mouth, Face, Scalp, Hands and Feet, Hives (Welts)
    • Wheezing and Difficulty Breathing
    • Swelling of the Face, Eyelids, Tongue, Lips, Hands or Feet
    • Tightening of the Throat (difficult swallowing)
    • Sudden onset of Vomiting, Cramps or Diarrhea

    Customers with Food Allergies

    When a guest informs you that he or she has a food allergy you may need to supply them with a list of ingredients in the foods they are ordering. Example, eggs, margarine, wheat (bread or buns), etc. If you're not sure of the ingredients, it is safer to say "I don't know", and then seek out the manager to find out.

    If a customers asks about ingredients, be understanding, listen carefully and answer thoughtfully. We need to provide accurate information so the customer can make an informed decision. Incorrect information may put them at risk.

    Cross Contact and Allergies

    This is a concern for customers with food allergies as well. Cross contact occurs when one food comes into contact with another food and their proteins mix. As a result, one food may contain small amounts of the other food, which is often invisible.

    This contact may be direct (e.g., placing cheese on a hamburger) or indirect via hands or utensils. Even a tiny amount of the allergenic food is enough to cause an allergic reaction in some people. Therefore precautions must be taken to avoid cross contact.

    For servers:  There are a number of ways allergens may enter a meal through cross contact during the serving process. Unclean hands, splashed or spilled food, improperly cleaned tables, chairs, utensils, shared utensils, apron or uniform pockets.

    For cooks:  When preparing food for a customer who has food allergy, cooks must take extra precautions. The following are the most common culprits in cross contact: shared pans, fryers, grills, counters, dishes, trays, cutting boards and utensils like knives, improperly cleaned equipment, unclean hands or gloves, spills or splattering while cooking and removing an allergy-causing food from a meal without replacing the whole meal (such as scraping cheese from a cheeseburger instead of making a new hamburger with no cheese).

    If a Customer Has an Allergic Reaction

    Call emergency medical services immediately. It is also important to keep the person where they are and not have them stand into an upright position.

    Person-In-Charge Responsibilities

    During a health inspection of our restaurant, the cook may be asked to answer a few questions by the health inspector. Such question may be about hand-washing, about the bare-hand-contact plan, and other questions specific to the contents of this manual. Think of this as a simple explanation of the good hygiene and safe food handling practices that you use every day on the job.

    The inspector may ask who is the "person in charge". That is you, if you are the cook!

    The health inspector may ask you questions about the contents of this manual:

    • Personal hygiene
    • Cross contamination
    • Hand-washing
    • Bare Hand Contact Plan
    • Exclusion and Restriction of Ill employees
    • Time and Temperature Control of Foods
    • Food Storage and Limiting Length of Storage
    • Food Temperature Safety Zone
    • Cleaning and Sanitizing
    • Food Allergy Procedures