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Hand washing practice within the Catering Industry

The importance of hand washing within the catering industry to reduce the risk of cross contamination and the prevention of the spread of bacteria.

All staff involved in the industry are required to wash their hands before during and after handling or preparing food. It is extremely easy for harmful bacteria to spread from our hands, surfaces and equipment to the food we handle and prepare.

5 reasons why you need a hand washing unit

  • You are legally obliged to
  • You reduce the risk of food poisoning
  • You can improve your food rating score
  • You will increase your customer base
  • You will play a part in improving the industry image

Hand Wash Provision – sink unit type

A single mixer tap is acceptable, or water supplied from an instant heating unit. A portable hand wash basin is a fantastic option where it is not possible to hard plumb the sink.

Hand washing facilities

There must have enough washbasins for staff to wash their hands, with hot and cold running water, and paper towel dispensers for drying your hands. Separate sinks must be provided, where necessary, for washing food and cleaning equipment as these should not be the same sink to reduce contamination (Food Standards Agency Regulation).

Facilities for washing food

There must be adequate facilities, where necessary, for washing food. Every sink (or other facilities) for washing food must have an adequate supply of hot and cold water (Food Standards Agency Regulation).

You should also ensure that the location of the hand wash areas are strategically placed so as to allow all staff ease of access. Following the simple steps will ensure your hands are washed thoroughly:

Step 1

Thoroughly wet your hands using warm running water and add liquid soap to your hands

Step 2

Rub your hands together palm to palm and make a lather

Step 3

Using your palms rub your hands across the back of your hands and along the length of your fingers, and then repeat with your other hand

Step 4

Interlock your fingers with your palms touching and rub thoroughly between all fingers

Step 5

Now rub around your thumbs and then rub the fingertips of each hand across your palms

Step 6

Rinse off the soap with clean water, dry your hands with a disposable towel, turn the tap off with the towel and throw the towel away

Using disposable gloves

In some cases, you will use disposable gloves while working with the food. It should be noted that this does not reduce the need to provide suitable hand washing facilities for all staff.

Please see the guidance below:

  • Where using disposable gloves you still need to follow procedures when working within the catering industry.
  • Ensure that you wash your hands thoroughly prior to putting the gloves on (follow the 6 steps highlighted above). After removing the gloves ensure that you wash your hands, again following the 6 steps previously advised.
  • Change the gloves regularly especially when handling raw and cooked food and finally throw them away if there is any damage to the gloves during your shift.
  • Hygienic hand rubs can be used as an additional precaution but should never be used as a replacement for effective hand washing.



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