An ACT Government Website

A food handler is anyone who works in a food business and who handles food or touches surfaces that are likely in contact with food including cutlery, plates and bowls.

Under the Food Standards Code you must make sure you do not contaminate food and make it unsafe to eat.

As a food handler you may:

  • prepare food
  • make and cook food
  • serve food
  • pack food
  • display or store food
  • manufacture or produce food
  • collect or extract food products
  • process or treat food
  • transport or deliver food
  • thaw or preserve food

Your health responsibilities

You must to prevent contamination of food if you are suffering from a foodborne disease.

Examples of food-borne diseases are:

Symptoms of these diseases may include diarrhoea, vomiting, fever, sore throat with fever and jaundice.

You must not return to work if you are suffering from vomiting or diarrhoea until symptoms have stopped for 48 hours.

If you have a symptom of a food-borne disease, or know you have a disease, if you are at work you must:

  • report to your manager that you are sick or are carrying a disease
  • not handle food if you are likely to contaminate it with a disease
  • take all practical precautions to prevent food being contaminated if you are continuing to work at the food business

You must also tell your supervisor if you have contaminated food, if you have any infected skin lesions (an infected skin sore or boil), acne, or a cut or abrasion, or any discharge from the ear, nose or eyes.

Find about more about foodborne illnesses.

Your hygiene responsibilities

You have a number of hygiene responsibilities as a food handler:

  • Wash your hands thoroughly before starting work, before handling food, and before putting on gloves.
  • Wash your hands thoroughly after using the toilet, coughing, sneezing, blowing your nose, touching your face, ears, nose or mouth, handling rubbish or doing any cleaning such as mopping.
  • Avoid unnecessary contact with food that is ready to eat.
  • Tie back long hair or use a hairnet.
  • Cover any dressings or bandages with a waterproof covering.
  • Prevent anything from your body contaminating food.
  • Don’t sit on food preparation benches.
  • Don’t leave your personal belongings on the benches.
  • Wear clean outer clothing.
  • Change aprons or other clothing if they are soiled.
  • Never blow into a bag to open it to put in food.

You must also take care not to smoke in areas where food is handled, not touch food after touching money or before washing your hands, not to wear jewellery on your hands or wrists, and not to eat in areas where food is handled.

You must tell your supervisor if you think you have contaminated food. For example, if a glass has broken near food or if a band aid or jewellery has fallen into food.

This page is managed by: ACT Health Directorate