Hand Contact With Food

Fact Sheet Table of Contents

Direct Hand Contact With Ready To Eat Foods

Section 750.160 Illinois Food Sanitation Code requires that food employees avoid direct hand contact (using bare hands) with ready-to-eat (RTE) foods whenever possible.

  • Ready-to-eat food means food that is an edible form without further washing, cooking or additional preparation and or food that the consumer would reasonably expect to consume in that form. Ready-to-eat food includes: raw, washed cut and whole fruits & vegetables, deli meats and cheeses, baked goods and food that has been previously cooked to required temperatures.
  • Whenever possible, employees must avoid direct hand contact with RTE food by using a suitable utensil such as deli tissue, spatula, tongs or single use gloves. Utensils must be stored properly.
  • Employees must wear gloves only if a safety hazard is not created. Gloves should not be worn by employees using mechanical equipment, or while working at a hot grill or carrying hot containers.
  • Employees must thoroughly wash their hands before using utensils or gloves.
  • If gloves are used to handle RTE food, they must be:
    • single use gloves such as vinyl or latex not heavy-duty rubber gloves
    • discarded when interruption occur in the task or operation
    • used for only one task or procedure and for no other purpose
    • discarded when damaged or soiled

food - hand contactWhen direct hand contact with ready-to-eat food is considered unavoidable (i.e. safety reasons) and alternatives such as utensils can not be used, a facility must use the following procedure:

  • At least annually, review its operation to identify and document procedures and workstations that require direct hand contact with RTE foods. Maintain this list on site for review by Health Department.
  • Update and remove areas on the list if a suitable alternative can be developed.
  • Provide focused education and training to employees involved in these procedures on proper hand washing procedures that reinforces the importance of handwashing when handling ready-to-eat foods.