Last updated on 14 May 2009
Food handlers: Fitness to work - A practical guide for food businesses
People who work around open food while suffering from certain infections (mainly from bacteria and viruses) can contaminate the food or surfaces the food may come into contact with. The Agency has published revised 'Food Handlers: Fitness to Work' guidance to help prevent the spread of infection to other people through food.
The guidance aims to help managers and staff to prevent the spread of infection by advising which illnesses and symptoms staff should report and what managers should do in response.
A summary of the guidance:
- diarrhoea and/or vomiting are the main symptoms of illnesses that can be transmitted through food
- staff handling food or working in a food handling area must report these symptoms to management immediately
- managers must exclude staff with these symptoms from working with or around open food, normally for 48 hours from when symptoms stop naturally
In some cases, different action is required, as explained in section 9 of the guidance.
In addition, all staff who handle food and who work around open food must always:
- wash and dry their hands before handling food, or surfaces likely to come into contact with food, especially after going to the toilet
This is because it is possible to be infected but not have symptoms.
This FSA publication updates and replaces the 1995 Department of Health guidance. For the first time, the guidance applies to all UK food business operators except primary producers (e.g. farmers and growers).
The guidance accompanies legislation and describes best practice, taking into account the latest evidence and science principles. It plays an important role in helping food businesses to ensure the safety of the food they produce. The aim is to help managers and staff to prevent the spread of infection by advising which illnesses and symptoms staff should report, and what managers should do in response.
Individual businesses can decide whether they want to use this guidance or not, but it is hoped that it will prove useful in meeting legal food hygiene obligations, as well as ensuring high standards are achieved in food safety.
The guidance can be found at the link below.