Regular health checks for food workers a must

Food Inspector
Food Inspector

A municipality official inspects a food-processing firm to make sure the company maintains hygiene standards. (SPA)

The Ministry of Municipal and Rural Affairs has issued a handbook setting out stringent hygiene requirements for restaurants. The ministry warned operators in the industry that it would punish those who fail to comply. All workers are required to follow these instructions to ensure the safety of consumers, the ministry said.

The handbook “Food Health and Safety in Restaurants” and the technical guidebook “Personal Hygiene for Workers” stress that personal hygiene is the first line of defense against the spread of infection and diseases.

Personal hygiene is mandatory for all workers in the food services industry. The ministry said food companies must ensure their workers undergo regular health checks. It said that companies must not allow sick workers into their kitchens until they recover completely, particularly from infectious diseases. Workers need to shower on a daily basis, and cover any wounds or small burns with water-resistant bandages. Those with infections from burns must not be allowed to work until they recover fully.

Workers must wash their hands carefully for at least 20 seconds. They should check their gloves regularly and replace those that are torn or stained. Workers must ensure their clothes are clean and wear prescribed professional clothing only in the workplace. Female workers should refrain from painting their nails or using artificial nails.

The ministry highlighted the importance of wearing gloves, headscarves, masks and slip-resistant shoes that cover the front part of the foot. Smoking, chewing gum or eating in the workplace should be prohibited unless at designated times and in specific areas.

Workers should be careful not to sneeze or cough around food, refrain from touching their faces and hair, shaking hands with people or touching raw food during preparation or serving. They need to use paper napkins to wipe off sweat and wash their hands afterward.

The ministry ordered all workers in the food industry to comply with the health regulations and instructions. Periodic medical records for workers need to be kept and filed. All foreign workers have to undergo medical tests on arrival, it said.

 
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