Including Bare Hand Contact Plan

Part 1

Let's Learn about Cross-Contamination

Cross-contamination is one of the most common ways food service workers can transfer harmful bacteria to the food our customers will eat. Some examples of cross-contamination are:

So when we handle foods, especially ready-to-eat foods which are foods that will get no additional cooking prior to eating, we must take precautions to not cross-contaminate.

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

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



Wet, Soap, Rinse, Dry

Hand Washing 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, state and local food codeS prohibitS "bare hand contact" with "ready-to-eat" foods. Typically 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 and take off food service gloves, 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.

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;
  2. various hygiene procedures;
  3. proper hand washing;
  4. procedures for the exclusion or restriction from food handling by ill employees;
  5. an approved, written bare hand contact plan.

Bare-Hand Contact Plan

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. You'll use utensils to  touch cooked food. So slide cooked eggs from the pan without touching the eggs, and use  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 with soap and water, then use hand sanitizer after touching raw foods and before touching  ready-to-eat foods with bare hands.

Image of Uncooked Food 4.  Now 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...

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

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

3. Wash hands with soap and water, and apply sanitizer solution.

4. Now you may touch ready-to-eat foods such as toast,sandwiches or buns, with your bare-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 after touching raw foods and before touching ready-to-eat foods.

4.  Now you may touch with bare hands 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)

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