Personnel Practices

Proper Hygiene 

It is important for food processors to understand and practice proper hygiene. Proper hygiene not only protects the operator from illness but it reduces the potential for contamination of the product, which if consumed by the public, could transmit foodborne illness. 
An effective personnel hygiene program needs to address the following: 

Effective Training Program  

Personal hygiene practices should be communicated prior to employment. All employees: supervisors, full time, part time and seasonal personnel require instructions on basic sanitation and hygiene principles. Timeframes for follow-up training sessions are based on personnel’s job specific requirements. Signs with pictures of good hygienic practices are an excellent method to reinforce training.  

Personnel Cleanliness 

A high degree of personnel cleanliness is required. Wear suitable protective clothing, head covering, and footwear. No jewelry is allowed. Food handlers can carry pathogens internally and on their hands, skin and hair. Hair in food can be a source of both microbial and physical contamination. Hairnets and beard covers should be worn to maintain the integrity of food products. Long-sleeved smocks should be worn to cover arm hair. Change into clean uniforms, aprons and other outer garments before entering the work area to reduce the possibility of contamination. 

Personnel Behaviour 

Food handling activities require that personnel refrain from activities like smoking, spitting, chewing or eating, sneezing or coughing over unprotected food or raw materials. Around 30 to 50 per cent of adults carry Staphylococcus aureus in their nose and 20 to 35 per cent carry it on their skin. S. aureus can be transferred from hands to food or by sneezing or coughing on food. Consumption of food, drinking or smoking in food handling areas could contaminate the food. These actions need to be conducted in designated areas.

Personnel Health 

Personnel suffering from a communicable disease, such as flu, or with open cuts or wounds need to report to their supervisor before beginning work. Pathogens like Escherichia coli O157:H7, Salmonella, Shigella species, and hepatitis A virus have a high level of infection. Supervisors should be familiar with the symptoms in order to take appropriate measures. No food handler who is affected or exposed to a communicable disease shall work in any area where food or food contact surfaces can be contaminated. 

Hygienic Practices 

Good hygienic practices need to be understood by the personnel. These practices need to be promoted since many diseases that are transmissible through food may be carried by the employee. Thorough hand washing before starting food handling activities, after using the toilet and after handling raw materials or any contaminated food is very important. Contaminated hands are responsible for transmitting infectious diseases.  Hands and nails must be kept clean. Fingernails should be short and fingernail polish or false fingernails are not allowed.

An appropriate hand washing technique is as follows: 

  • Wash with soap and water (warm water is more effective than cold water).
  • Lather with soap and thoroughly scrub between fingers, on the backs of hands, and around nails. 
  • Scrub for at least 20 seconds.
  • Rinse.
  • Dry hands (dry palms and backs of hands using paper towels or electric hand dryers; avoid the use of common or shared towels).

Ensure that good hygienic practices are followed by visitors and product inspectors. 

Management personnel should serve as a role model for good work habits and acceptable hygienic practices.


Standards Recommended for Processor Health and Hygiene Practices

  • International Code of Practice (CODEX). Section 7.

     General Principles of Food Hygiene CAC/RCP 1-1969, Rev. 4-20031 (PDF 115 KB)

  • Manitoba Public Health Act. Part 1, Section 12 (1).

     Food and Food Handling Establishments Regulation (PDF 286 KB)

Other Information


For more information, email the Food Safety and Inspection Branch or call 204-795-8418 in Winnipeg.