Thursday, September 6, 2012

Sept. is National Food Safety Month, Wk 1-Personal Hygiene

This year’s National Food Safety Month (NFSM) theme, “Be Safe, Don’t Cross-Contaminate,” focuses on best practices to avoid the spread of pathogens from one food or surface to another. The National Restaurant Association and the Louisiana Restaurant Association have been partnering since 1994, when NFSM was created, to heighten awareness about the importance of food safety education.

“This annual food safety campaign strives to build awareness of Louisiana restaurant and foodservice industry’s commitment to excellence in food safety education and training,” said Pam St. Pierre, LRA VP of Member Services.

Each year, a new theme and free training activities and posters are created for the restaurant and foodservice industry to help reinforce proper food safety practices and procedures. These practices and procedures are based on the NRA’s nationally-recognized ServSafe food safety training and certification program, which is the industry’s gold-standard for such programs. The blog post "Food Safety and Sanitation at the core of LRA benefits," covers in more detail the ServSafe course schedule. requirements and costs offered statewide.

“Food safety is, and always has been, our highest priority,” said St. Pierre. “Restaurants in Louisiana are more than just a place to eat, but are culturally significant in defining who we are as a people. We take food safety education and training very seriously to ensure that our restaurants serve the highest quality meals to guests every day in Louisiana.”

Each week during September, NFSM shares insight on the various components of its theme, “Be Safe, Don’t Cross Contaminate.” Week one covers the topic of Personal Hygiene Practices That Prevent Cross-Contamination.

Good personal hygiene is a key component to preventing cross-contamination and the spread of foodborne illness. Customers expect it as well. Having the correct knowledge and attitude about personal hygiene will put you closer to keeping food safe. Here are some rules you can follow to understand correct personal hygiene.

Correct Hand Care:
  • Wash hands correctly and at the correct times.
  • Only use hand antiseptics after handwashing, never in place of it.
  • Keep fingernails short and clean.
  • Infected wounds, cuts or boils on the hands or wrists must be covered with an impermeable cover. A single-use glove should then be worn over the cover. 
  • If single-use gloves are worn in your establishment when handling ready-to-eat food, they should be changed when they become dirty or torn; before beginning a different task; after an interruption (such as a phone call); and after handling raw meat, seafood or poultry and before handling ready-to-eat food.
Personal Cleanliness and Work Attire

  • Shower or bathe before work.
  • Wear a clean hat or other hair restraint when in a food-prep area.
  • Do not wear hair accessories that could become physical contaminants.
  • Wear clean clothing daily.
  • Remove aprons when leaving prep areas and never wipe hands on aprons.
  • Remove jewelry (except for plain band rings) from hands and arms before prepping food or when working around prep areas.
  • Do not eat, drink, smoke or chew gum or tobacco when prepping or serving food, when working in prep areas, and when working in areas used to clean utensils and equipment.
  • Avoid scratching the scalp, running fingers through hair, wiping or touching the nose, rubbing an ear, touching pimples or infected wounds, coughing or sneezing into the hand and spitting inside the operation.

Here are a few suggestions for restaurant operators to further the awareness of food safety and cross contamination during the month of September and year round.

  • Conduct a food safety training class for all employees. The LRA offers ServSafe Handler, a two-hour course designed to give front and back of the house staff a primer on the five sections of Basic Food Safety—personal hygiene, cross-contamination and allergens, time and temperature and cleaning and sanitation.
  • Ask each head cook or manager to review the weekly activities found here.
  • Promote NFSM and your involvement in this national campaign, on your website, blog and social media channels.
Earlier this summer, the NRA provided 5 Food Safety Tips for Summer Grilling which highlighted cross-contamination as a key point to avoid foodborne illnesses. More activities and resources regarding National Food Safety Month can be found here.


  1. Reading your posts, I've realized that how health and safety is important for us, it’s really helpful. I appreciate the fact that you've shared this to your readers.

  2. September is National Food Safety Education Month and it’s also a great season for food entrepreneurs to undergo training as many organizations conduct free training sessions to strengthen the proper food safety procedures and practices. Owners must encourage their employees to avail of these training sessions to make sure that their staff knows the right way of how to prepare food. This will show how committed you are to food safety.