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Handling Food Safely

14 June 2024

Handling food safely for consumer use is not only a moral obligation – it is a legal one! Each year thousands of people get seriously ill due to food poisoning. Some of these people may die. Those most at risk include the very young, the elderly, people who are already ill and pregnant women.

The spread of food poisoning bacteria can be prevented by good food handling practices and by maintaining good personal hygiene.


Handling Food Safely Examples

These are some of the examples of handling food safely:

  • Never allow raw food to come into contact with cooked or ready-to-eat foods.
  • Store raw foods separately from cooked and ready-to-eat foods.
  • Alternatively, store raw food on the bottom shelf in the fridge and store cooked and ready-to-eat food on the top shelves.
  • Keep food covered or store it in sealed food containers.
  • Wash your hands between handling raw and cooked and/or ready-to-eat foods.
  • Use separate work areas, utensils and equipment for preparing raw and cooked/ ready-to-eat foods. If this is not possible, clean and disinfect utensils and work surfaces carefully between these tasks.
  • Ensure that your service cloth is kept clean and is replaced frequently.


Examples of Good Personal Hygiene

Good personal hygiene is one of the most important principles of handling food safely. These are some of the examples of good personal hygiene:

  • Wash hands regularly!
  • Did we mention Wash Your Hands regularly!
  • Wash your hands thoroughly using hot water and liquid soap:
    • Before starting work.
    • Before handling cooked and/or ready-to-eat food.
    • Before using disposable gloves.
    • After handling raw food.
    • After using the toilet.
    • After handling rubbish.
    • After smoking.
    • After touching your hair or face, sneezing, coughing and using a handkerchief.
    • After performing routine cleaning tasks.

You can watch Hand Washing in the Hospitality video HERE.


General Handling Food Safely Advice

The following is general advice on handling food safely:

Be clean and tidy

  • Be clean and tidy and wear clean protective clothing such as an apron or overall when handling or serving food.
  • Keep hair clean and covered under a cap or hairnet. Long hair must be tied up.
  • Keep nails clean and short.
  • Don’t wear strong perfume, nail varnish or excessive make-up.
  • Restrict your jewellery to a plain wedding band and small earrings.

Treat food with care

  • Do not handle food unnecessarily.
    • use tongs where possible.
  • Do not pick your nose, lick your fingers, taste food with your fingers, eat, chew gum, cough or sneeze near food that you are preparing or serving.
  • Cover cuts and sores with a blue waterproof dressing.
  • Inform your immediate supervisor if you have diarrhoea or an upset stomach. If you are ill you should not prepare or handle food but may perform alternative duties until the illness has passed.


Food Safety Training

It is a legal requirement that staff who are involved in a food environment are trained and/or supervised commensurate with their work activity.

For this reason and to learn more about food poisoning and how to prevent it, the eLearn Safety has developed fully online food safety courses. These courses are designed to introduce participants to food safety and hygiene issues. In addition, all courses are based on the training criteria set down by the Food Safety Authority of Ireland’s Guide to Food Safety Training at appropriate level.

Afterwards, on completion of any of our food safety training courses, participants will be able to understand their requirements under Irish food safety legislation as well as following best work practices at appropriate level.

Likewise, you can find further useful information on how you can stop the spread of food poisoning bacteria and other food safety relevant information on the FSAI website.


Consequences of Poor Food Handling

According to the BBC some 113 people have become ill with E. coli in recent weeks in the UK. Experts believe it is most likely linked to a nationally distributed food item. According to the UKHSA the location of reported cases is as follows:

  • 81 in England.
  • 18 in Wales.
  • 13 in Scotland.
  • 1 in Northern Ireland (for this case, evidence suggests that they acquired their infection while visiting England).

At the same time, in Ireland the Food Safety Authority of Ireland (FSAI) today reported that nine Enforcement Orders were served on food businesses during the month of May for breaches of food safety legislation.

Some of the reasons for the Enforcement Orders in May include: evidence of rodent infestation, including dead rodents in multiple areas, including under a fridge and under shelves on the shop floor; raw fish defrosting at room temperature in a dirty container on the floor of the kitchen area; accumulation of dirt, cobwebs and dead insects on floors; inadequate cleaning and a build-up of waste stored in a room next to toilets with foul odour and flies present; no hot water, soap or paper towels available at the wash hand basin in the staff toilet; absence of an adequate food safety culture particularly regarding training of staff.


Online Food Safety Training

Please remember – it is a legal requirement that staff who are involved in a food environment are trained and/or supervised commensurate with their work activity!

Myelearnsafety offers fully online Food Safety (HACCP) courses.

To find out more, please check our Courses page.

Alternatively, should you need any additional information, please do not hesitate to let us know via email


eLearn Online Health and Safety Training