Proper clothing is critical in safe food manufacturing

Personnel should be clothed in a way that enhances food safety in the food manufacturing environment.

Clothing worn by food manufacturing personnel should be worn, laundered and stored in a way that will not cause contamination of the food products they are producing. Staff should come to work in clean clothing, and be physically clean upon arrival. Supervisors should monitor employees to ensure that they arrive ready to work and meet company standard operating procedures (SOPs) and local health department requirements.

Use of aprons should be encouraged or required. The condition of an apron is easy to evaluate, and may be much easier to evaluate then regular clothing. For this reason aprons should be encouraged, if not required for personnel directly involved in handling food. Aprons should be changed when soiled. Hair nets and coverings should be used to prevent contamination from an individual’s hair.

Jewelry and articles of adornment should be avoided. Other items of adornment might include false fingernails, fingernail polish, hair extensions or something similar. Excluding jewelry and articles of adornment will prevent physical contamination, should the jewelry break and become lodged in the food. It will also prevent chemical or biological contamination should any residues be present. An exception would be a medical alert bracelet that cannot be removed or a simple, smooth wedding band.

Who needs to be clothed properly in a food manufacturing facility? Simply put, all personnel, including staff, visitors, contractors and anyone else entering or in the facility. It is management’s responsibility to monitor all who are in the facility and to insure that they are properly equipped so that food products are not contaminated. If the proper clothing protocols and procedures are established and executed, the risk of spreading foodborne illnesses can be reduced.

Food processors who are setting up facilities to make products are important to the economy of Michigan. Educators at Michigan State University Extension and Innovation Counselors at the Michigan State University Product Center assist businesses in the establishment of good practices to improve business effectiveness. For further information and assistance with employee communications please contact your local MSU Extension office.

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