According to CDC data, poor personal hygiene of food workers was the second leading cause of foodborne illness in the United States during the five-year period from 1988-1992. The CDC has also reported that hands are the most common means by which enteric viruses are transmitted, and that contamination of food by an infected food worker is the most common mode of transmission of Hepatitis A in foodborne disease outbreaks. In addition, Norwalk-like viruses are the leading cause of foodborne illness in Minnesota according to Minnesota Department of Health. Depending upon the level of contamination of the hands, handwashing alone may not be adequate in preventing the transmission of viral and protozoan microbes from infected food workers to ready to eat foods.
Minnesota Rules 4626.0225, 3-301.11 a-d, (Minnesota Food Code), addresses limiting bare hand contact with ready-to-eat (RTE) food. This policy provides further clarification and guidance on this issue.
Bare hand contact with RTE food is not permitted unless there is no reasonable or practical alternative. Bare hand contact is permitted only if the following procedures are implemented in the foodservice facility:
Dairy & Food Inspection Division