Information for food handlers

People who handle food are responsible for making sure that they do not make food unsafe or unsuitable for people to eat.

Food handlers also have specific health and hygiene responsibilities.

How to identify a food handler

A food handler is anyone who works in a food business and does one or all of the following:

  • handles food
  • manufactures, transports or delivers food
  • handles surfaces that are likely to be in contact with food, such as cutlery, plates and bowls.

What to do if you are sick

Food-borne illnesses

You must tell your work supervisor if you have any of the following symptoms while at work:

  • vomiting
  • diarrhoea
  • fever
  • sore throat with fever.

These may be symptoms of illnesses including Hepatitis A and those caused by giardia, salmonella and campylobacter.

You must also tell your supervisor if you have been diagnosed with a food-borne illness.

Food handling and food-borne illnesses

If you have a food-borne illness, must not handle any food where there is a chance you might make the food unsafe or unsuitable.

If you stay at work to do other work, you must take reasonable steps to make sure you do not contaminate food.

Exceptions

You do not have to tell your supervisor if you have the above symptoms for a different reason.

For example, you do not have to tell your work supervisor if you are vomiting at work due to pregnancy.

Skin injuries, sores and other illnesses

You must tell your work supervisor about any infections or conditions that might make food unsafe or unsuitable for people to eat.

This includes all of the following:

  • cold
  • flu
  • any problem that causes discharges from the ears, nose or eyes.

If you handle food with any of these conditions, you must take reasonable steps to avoid contaminating food.

For example, you could cover an infected sore with a bandage and clothing, or by a waterproof covering if on an area of bare skin.

What to do if you think you have contaminated food

You must tell your supervisor immediately if you know or suspect you have made food unsafe or unsuitable to eat.

Personal hygiene

You must practice personal hygiene and cleanliness to minimise food contamination risks.

This includes all of the following:

  • taking reasonable steps to prevent contact with food or food contact surfaces
  • taking reasonable steps to prevent unnecessary contact with ready-to-eat food
  • wearing clean clothing
  • covering bandages on exposed parts of the body with waterproof dressings
  • avoiding eating over unprotected food or surfaces likely to come in contact with food
  • avoiding sneezing, blowing or coughing over unprotected food or surfaces likely to come into contact with food
  • avoiding spitting, smoking or using tobacco where food is handled
  • not urinating or defecating except in a toilet.

Hand washing for food handlers

You need to wash your hands whenever your hands are likely to contaminate food, including:

  • immediately before working with ready-to-eat food after handling raw food
  • immediately after using the toilet
  • before you start handling food or go back to handling food after other work
  • immediately after smoking, coughing, sneezing, using a handkerchief or disposable tissue, eating, drinking or using tobacco or similar substances
  • after touching your hair, scalp or a body opening.

How to wash your hands

  • use the hand washing facilities provided by the business
  • clean your hands thoroughly using soap or other effective means
  • use warm running water
  • dry your hands on a single-use towel or in another way that is not likely to transfer germs.

Read more about hand washing.

For more information contact Environmental Health.

Last updated: 13 October 2017