Fitness to work

Fitness to work 

If you handle food, you have a responsibility to observe good standards of personal hygiene and to prevent food being contaminated. 


Washing your hands thoroughly with warm water and soap will help to avoid contamination, particularly at the following times:

  • after using the toilet at home and at work
  • before starting work or after taking a break
  • after handling rubbish
  • after handling raw foods
  • after smoking, eating or drinking
  • after putting your hand over your nose or mouth
  • after touching your hair

Dry your hands thoroughly after you have washed them.

Exclusion of food handlers from work

If as a food handler, you have: 

  • Symptoms of sickness and/or diarrhoea 
  • Infected (red, swollen, pus containing) wounds
  • Skin infections or sores
  • A disease likely to be transmitted through food (or they are a carrier of such disease) 

You must: 

  • Report immediately to your line manager 
  • Leave the food handling area 
  • Not return to work until forty-eight hours after symptoms have ceased (or as advised by your Doctor) 

It is possible to be infected but not have any symptoms.

Checklist for good hygiene practice

The checklist below will help prevent the spread of infection:

  • wash and dry your hands thoroughly after going to the WC and before handling food
  • do not handle food if you are suffering from diarrhoea and/or vomiting
  • tell your boss if you or anyone in your household is ill
  • tell your boss if you have infected cuts or sores
  • use bright coloured waterproof coverings (blue) for cuts and grazes
  • do not spit, smoke, eat or chew gum when you are handling food
  • make sure your work clothes are clean
  •  keep your workplace, especially surfaces and utensils, clean
  •  tell your boss if you were ill while on holiday
  • if you have to visit the doctor, remember to say you are a food handler

If in doubt, food handlers should contact their local Environmental Health Officer for advice. 

Line managers must ensure that food handlers only return to work when there is no risk of them passing on any infection via food. Line managers should also contact their local Environmental Health Officer for advice if in any doubt. 

Line managers must ensure that toilets, handles, taps and surfaces are cleaned and sanitised if anyone reporting diarrhoea and/or vomiting has come into contact with these things. 


Last updated: 7 July 2020