Poor Risk Perception Of Personal Hygiene Leads To Risky Behaviours

Food handlers are a common source pathogenic bacteria. The law requires those handling food to maintain high standards of personal hygiene, wear suitable protective clothing and report certain illnesses and conditions. But poor personal hygiene and food handlers working whilst ill are still major causal factors of food poisoning in the UK. A new study conducted by the University of Liverpool reveals poor personal hygiene is significant risk in kitchens. The survey of 200 chefs revealed that over 30% had returned to within 48 hours of symptoms of food poisoning and 7% did not wash their hands after handling raw meat or fish. Surprisingly, the study suggested fear and teamwork were behavioural factors that influenced chefs working in fine dining restaurants to return to work soon after suffering the symptoms of food poisoning. However, the most extraordinary case of poor personal hygiene was reported recently in a fast food restaurant in Taiwan, where a food handler thought it was acceptable to take a shower in sink within a food premises.


Food handlers infected with pathogenic organisms have been implicated in major outbreaks of food poisoning, including a large outbreak of Norovirus in restaurant in the UK.  Following exclusion procedures for ill food handlers is critical. The ‘Fitness to Work’ guidance provides practical advice on how to meet legal requirements to exclude food handlers with specific infections that pose a risk to food safety.  It is also important to remember that exclusion extends to anyone entering a food room, including Auditor, EHO’s, Pest Control Operatives and Maintenance Engineers.


Effective handwashing is critical preventing contamination of food and surface, but a survey of 1000 food handlers revealed that 39% did not wash their hands after visiting the toilet and 53% did not wash their hands before preparing food. This poor risk perception will likely result in an outbreak. In 2015, 142 customers feel ill with E.coli after staff employed in a takeaway in Nottingham did not wash their hands. But sometimes is not necessarily the food handler’s fault when appropriate facilities are not provided. In 2016, a fast food restaurant in Wales was fined £100,000 for hygiene offences, including no hot water for 10 days.


Percipio Training transformative training methods helps increase the risk perception of candidates by explaining why personal hygiene is important and what could happen if rules are not followed. We use real-life cases to contextualise learning to the workplace. Explore our website and find out more about our extensive range of food safety training courses available at levels 1 to 4. 

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