Food Safety Training
for Handling Ready-to-Eat Foods

Let's Learn about Cross-Contamination

Cross-contamination is one of the most common ways food service workers can transfer harmful bacteria and therefore a food-borne illness to the food our customers will eat. Some examples of cross-contamination are bacteria to food from dirty hands; to food from other foods; and to food from dirty cutting boards or utensils. So when we handle foods, especially ready-to-eat foods which are foods that will get no additional cooking prior to consumption, we must take precautions to not cross-contaminate.

It's not complicated to prevent cross-contamination and therefore reduce the risk of food-borne illness, as long as we follow some simple and important personal hygiene habits and other important procedures as follows.

Personal Hygiene

Your good personal hygiene is the first defense to cross-contamination and the spread of food-borne illness. The following are mandatory components of good personal 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.

Hand Washing Procedures

Image of Handwashing

Initial hand washing when you begin work, followed by frequent additional hand washing at appropriate times, are especially important to avoid cross contamination.

Where to Wash Hands

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

When to Wash Hands



Unclean Hands Spread Disease

Wet, Soap, Rinse, Dry

Handwashing Video

Watch this important little video, it has more information than just how to wash hands.

What are Ready-to-Eat Foods?

Ready-to-Eat foods are foods that require no additional cooking prior to consumption by our customers. Handling ready-to-eat foods with bare hands is a common cause of cross contamination. For this reason, the state and local food code prohibits "bare hand contact" with "ready-to-eat" foods. Specifically, what is required are freshly washed hands inserted into food service gloves, or the use of wax paper or a utensil to touch ready-to-eat foods.

However, in our fast paced operation and the frequent switching of tasks, it is impractical to put on food service gloves, take them off, and put them on again over and over all shift long. So 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. We have such a plan.

The plan is called a "Bare-Hand Contact Plan". It is designed  To assure there is no cross-contamination when handling ready-to-eat foods with bare hands, the plan must include:

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

Bare-Hand Contact Plan for Handling Ready-to-Eat Foods

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

Plan Elements

Image of Raw Egg1. You may touch with bare hands raw or unheated foods such as raw shell eggs; frozen hamburger patties, bacon, ham, sausage links or patties; hashbrowns; chicken breasts; steaks; French fries and other fried foods (such as fish, shrimp, appetizers).

Image of Cooked Food2. Use utensils to  touch cooked food. So slide cooked eggs from the pan without touching the eggs, and use utensils such as the spatula to plate foods such as pancakes, hamburger patties or anything from the grill or fryer.

Image of Hand SanitizerImage of Washing Hands

3. Wash hands then sanitize hands after touching raw foods and before touching the following ready-to-eat foods.

Image of Uncooked Food 4.  Again, after washing your hands you may touch with bare hands the following ready-to-eat-foods:  toast, buns, sandwich ingredients such as bread, cheese, lettuce, raw onions and pickles. NOTE: Alternatively you can use a physical barrier such as tongs, spatulas, deli paper or gloves.

To summarize...

You may touch with bare hands foods such as raw or unheated foods such as hamburger patties, that will be cooked or heated to serving temperature, before cooking or heating to temperature.

After those foods are cooked or heated to serving temperature, touch them only with utensils such as the spatula or tongs to plate those foods.

For ready-to-eat foods such as toast,sandwiches or buns, you may touch with bare-hands but only if you have thoroughly washed and sanitized your hands.


Bare Hand Contact Plan
Quick Reference


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 or unheated food that are going to be cooked or brought to serving temperature.

2.  Use utensils, not hands, to touch those cooked or heated foods.

3.  Wash hands and sanitize 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 or heating to serving temperature. NOTE: Tongs can also 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 or heated to serving termperature:

  • 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 and sanitized hands. (Or use a physical barrier)

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

  • 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 if the cook is not changing the gloves regularly. The best practice is frequent hand washing, or the use of utensils per the bare-hand-contact plan.

    Additional Control Measures to the Bare-Hand-Contact Plan

    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 Sanitizer

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

    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 throat with fever
    6. Lesions containing pus on the hand, wrist, or an exposed body part (such as boils and infected wounds, however small)

    Part 2

    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. The most rapid bacteria growth occurs between 70 and 125 degrees.

    Specifically: Cold foods must be held in the refrigerator at 41F or below. Hot foods must be held at or above 135F. 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. So 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, or in the microwave.

    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:  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. 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.

    Thawing 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, and never 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 - Using 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.

    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.

    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 the 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 the 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

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

    The Big-8 Major Food Allergens

    Image of Allergens

    Symptoms of Allergic Reaction

    Customers with Food Allergies

    When a guest informs you that he or she has a food allergy you may need to inform them of ingredients in the foods they are ordering. We need to provide accurate information as incorrect information may put them at risk. Be understanding, listen carefully, and answer thoughtfully. If you're not sure of the ingredients it is safer to say "I don't know", and then seek the manager to find out.

    Cross Contact and Allergies

    As it relates to allergies, 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. Contact may be direct (e.g. cheese on a hamburger), 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:  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:  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 inspector may ask who is the "person in charge". That is you, if you are the cook!  The cook may be asked to answer a few questions about hand-washing, about the bare-hand-contact plan, or other questions specific to the contents of this manual. Think of these as a simple questions about the good hygiene and safe food handling practices that you use every day on the job.

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


    Food Safety Training
    Bare Hand Contact Agreement

    I the undersigned, have read  this Food Safety Training guide and specifically acknowledge and understand:

    1. That handling ready-to-eat foods must be per the approved by Bare Hand Contact plan as approved by the local heath department;
    2. that it is my responsibility to ensure compliance with the Bare Hand Contact Plan at all times;
    3. that failure of George Webb Restaurants to comply with the Bare Hand Contact Plan will result in critical violation(s) being marked on health inspections and/or cancellation of our Bare Hand Contact Plan;
    4. that continued non-compliance could result in re-inspections, citations, fines, cancellation of our Bare Hand Contact Plan, loss of license to operate, or other punitive actions.

       Date:_______________________   Signature______________________________________

    Exclusion and Restriction Policy for Ill Employees

    I agree to immediately report to the person in charge:

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

    I have read and understand the requirements concerning these responsibilities:

    1. Reporting requirements specified above involving symptoms, diagnoses, and high-risk conditions specified;
    2. work restrictions or exclusions that are imposed upon me.

      Date:_______________________   Signature______________________________________

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