Employee Hygiene in Foodservice and Retail


Eric Moore, Director of Food Safety & Industry Relations, Testo North America

SARS-CoV2/COVID-19 has forever changed the way foodservice and retail establishments operate, the health and hygiene of your customers and employees are more essential than ever. In today’s rapidly changing environment it’s never too late to take the opportunity review current policies and procedures.   
To assist, I pulled together some proven retail and foodservice industry best practices along with more recent pandemic specific recommendations to support protecting your employees, your business and your community.

**Please be aware this is not an exhaustive list and local regulatory requirements can vary by jurisdiction and should be taken into consideration.**

  • Employee Uniforms
    - Must NOT be worn home from or to work.
    - Maintained neat and clean at all times (hat, shirt, apron/coat, etc.).
    - Changed when they become heavily soiled or pose a potential cross-contamination risk. (specifically aprons and coats worn by employees that handle raw animal products in the deli and meat department).
    - Uniforms, hats, visors, or jackets stored in a manner that prevents contamination of food or food related items (e.g. hanging a soiled jacket or apron on food storage shelving is not allowed).
    - Removed before leaving department when going to the restroom, on a break or to lunch.
  • Disposable Aprons
    - Are recommended during the preparation and handling of raw animal products, thus reducing potential uniform contamination.
    - Should be only worn for a single task, then discarded.
    - Must be removed and discarded any time employee leaves the workstation.
  • Fingernails
    - Must be maintained clean, trimmed and filed.
    - Fingernail polish and or artificial fingernails are acceptable but must always be maintained in good condition and covered with disposable gloves during food production.
  • Jewelry
    - Acceptable: Plain bands (example: wedding band without stones), small securely attached earrings (which must be covered by a hair net), necklace, including medical ID’s that are covered by uniform (may not be exposed) and securely attached pins such as a name tag.
    - Unacceptable: Rings of any size with stones, hoop or dangling earrings, bracelets (including medical information bracelets), pins with dangling parts or pieces.



Employees are required to wash their hands:

  • Immediately upon entering a food preparation area or before engaging in food preparation.
  • After engaging in any activity that SOILS or may SOIL the hands or as often as necessary during food preparation to remove soil and prevent cross-contamination.
  • Before serving food to customers.
  • Before putting on disposable gloves when working with food.
  • When switching between working with raw foods and working with ready-to-eat foods.
  • Before touching clean equipment and serving utensils in the food service areas.
  • After handling soiled equipment or utensils.
  • After touching bare human body parts other than clean hands and clean, exposed portions of arms.
  • After using the restroom.
  • After eating, drinking, coughing, sneezing, using a handkerchief or disposable tissue, or using tobacco.
  • Hand sanitizer does not replace handwashing.

How Employees are to wash hands:

  1. Wet your hands under clean, warm running water.
  2. Apply soap and rub all surfaces of the hands and fingers together vigorously with friction for at least 20 seconds, giving particular attention to the area under the fingernails, between the fingers/fingertips and surfaces of the hands, arms and surrogate prosthetic devices.
  3. Rinse thoroughly with clean, warm running water.
  4. Thoroughly dry the hands and exposed portions of arms with single-use paper towel, or a heated-air hand-drying device.
  5. Turn off water using the paper towel used to dry hands to ensure your hands are not contaminated by a soiled faucet.

Hand Sinks must at all times:

  • Be designated for handwashing and no other purpose.
  • Be reachable for handwashing at all times; never blocked or obstructed.
  • Have hot and cold running water; capable of providing water at least 100°F or higher.
  • Stocked with approved hand soap, disposable paper towels & trash can, or a heated air hand-drying device.
  • Kept clean and in good working order.
  • Have a handwashing sign posted.

Disposable Gloves are required to be:

  • Non-Latex
  • Worn when handling ready-to-eat food
  • Worn over cut resistant gloves
  • Worn when an associate has any cuts, sores, rashes, Band-Aids or bandages on exposed hands or arms
  • Worn at all times during food production by associates with nail polish artificial nails, non-cleanable orthopedic support devices
  • Changed whenever switching from working with raw products (meat or produce) to handling ready-to-eat products
  • Changed/removed and thrown away when you leave your work area
  • Removed and thrown away when they are ripped or torn and cannot be washed and re-used
  • Thrown away in the nearest trash container and never laid down on a food contact surface or in a food preparation area
  • Not used as a replacement for proper handwashing

Cut-resistant safety gloves are required to be:

  • Covered by a disposable glove when being worn
  • Used by all associates when cutting, slicing, etc.
  • Washed, rinsed, sanitized and air dried using a 3-compartment sink or dishwasher:
    - When they become contaminated (or at least every 4 hours when in use)
    - When switching from one product to another or when switching from raw to ready-to-eat foods

Hair must be:

  • Neat, clean and groomed at all times
  • Confined by hairnet, as well as a hat or visor while working or entering food production and/or storage areas where exposed food products are handled
  • Hair that extends past the shoulder must be secured in a ponytail and completely confined in a company issued hairnet

Facial Hair:

  • Is acceptable but MUST be kept neat and trimmed
  • Facial hair longer than ¼” must be covered with a beard restraint/net
  • Hair and beard restraints must be made readily accessible to employees entering food production and/or storage areas where exposed food products are handled 

Personal belongings must be:

  • Stored in designated lockers or designated storage areas that are labeled as such
  • Are not permitted in food preparation areas

First-Aid kits must be:

  • Labeled and stored in a secure container in a designated location

Personal medication must be:

  • Labeled and stored in a secure container in a designated location
  • Refrigerated medication is not permitted to be stored in food storage or production equipment where food products are stored
  • Drinking, eating, chewing gum, etc. are only permitted in designated associate break areas
  • Storage of personal food and drinks is permitted only in designated equipment in associate break areas
  • Storage of personal food or drinks is NOT permitted anywhere in fresh departments or food preparation areas
  • Drinking, eating or chewing gum is not permitted while working
  • Tobacco use (in any form) is only permitted in designated associate break areas
  • Tobacco use (in any form) is not permitted while working
  • Inform all conditional employees during initial interviews that it is are required to inform their employer of any past or current health conditions.
  • Implement an annual employee illness reporting agreement that is required to be reviewed, signed and placed in all employees’ files yearly.
  • During regional, national and global illness related events, incorporate the use of a daily set of health assessment questions for managers to ask every employee upon arrival to work, example questions could include but are not limited to;
    • Are you or have you been around anyone with the following symptoms?
    • Cough, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, fever or chills, muscle or body aches, vomiting or diarrhea, recent loss of taste or smell
  • Develop a plan and procedure to identify and isolate sick employees and or customers, then train your employees on how to execute the plan. 
  • Provide liquid sanitizer/sanitizer wipes at all customer entrances
  • Develop a plan and policy that promotes appropriate employee and customer physical distancing based you your local public health agency requirements.
  • Educate and train your employees on physical distancing.
  • Develop and post visual reference aids (posters, floor stickers, direction arrows, etc.) for use by employees and customers.
  • Ensure that employees are not congregating in break areas, locker rooms, etc.
  • Develop an employee policy to cover proper cough and sneeze etiquette that is followed by proper handwashing.
  • Educate and train your employees cough and sneeze etiquette.
  • Develop and post visual reference aids (posters) of cough and sneeze etiquette for use as by employees and customers.
  • Develop a policy on face coverings that includes (but is not limited to):
    • Indicating the type of face covering required to be worn by employees, keep in mind this may differ by employee roles and responsibilities.
    • When and where face coverings are to be worn by employees and customers.
    • How to properly putting-on and take off face covering.
  • Educate and train your employees on the face covering policy.
  • Develop and post visual reference aids (posters) of face covering requirements for use as by employees and customers.
  • Consider maintain a supply of disposable face coverings for employee and customer use.


We are here to help

Turn-key digital solutions for hygiene and sanitation procedures.

Testo has developed digital checklists for sanitation and hygiene procedures in foodservice. These checklists offer turn-key solutions to increase sanitation and hygiene via our mobile application and can be easily deployed to employees across multiple locations.

Click here to learn more: https://www.testo.com/en-US/hygiene


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