Food Handler Habits

One of the duties of a health inspector or environmental health officer is regular inspections of food establishments. One inspection stands out clearly in my mind as the owner of the restaurant reacted quite strongly to my report. Why was this? During the inspection, which was conducted mid-morning in a busy seafood restaurant, I noticed a food handler smoking while stirring the clam chowder. Usually, most staff are aware of an inspection taking place, and tend to be on their best behaviour, but this worker was paying no attention. The smoking was noted in the report and the owner stormed off to yell at his worker once he found out. Why was this a concern? Besides cigarette ashes falling into the food, there is the concern of hand-to-mouth transmission of bacteria to the food. Obviously, this food handler didn’t care about hygiene and the risk that was being created for the customers. Food handlers must never smoke when preparing or serving food. Handwashing is extremely important as a follow-up after returning from a cigarette break. A great rule to follow for food handlers is to always wash hands when returning from a break. On my next inspection of the seafood restaurant, the smoking food handler was no longer working at the restaurant!

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ENVIRO-FOOD CONSULTING is a foodservice consulting business run by Sally de la Rue Browne, Certified Public Health Inspector and Food Safety Specialist.

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