Hygiene for food businesses

Handling food and fitness to work


If you or your workers work with or near open food, and suffer from certain infections - bacterial or viral - you should take precautions to prevent contamination.

There are some illnesses and symptoms that staff should be report to a manager, including diarrhoea and/or vomiting. These are the main symptoms of many illnesses that can be transmitted through food. Anyone handling food or working in a food handling area must report these symptoms immediately.

You must not allow anyone who has these symptoms to work with or around open food - usually until 48 hours after the symptoms have ended.

During COVID-19, any food handler who is unwell and displaying symptoms should not be at work. If they have symptoms, they should follow government advice and stay at home. Detailed guidance is available:

Food business operators should continue to follow the FSA's guidance on good hygiene practices in food preparation and their Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP) processes.

Importance of washing hands

Everyone who handles food and who works around open food must always thoroughly wash and dry their hands before handling food or touching surfaces likely to come into contact with food. Food workers should always wash their hands after going to the toilet. It is possible to be infected but not to display symptoms of the illness.

Read more about cleaning, disinfection and preventing food cross-contamination.