Where do Handwashing Sinks Need to be? What’s Included?
Handwashing is a crucial requirement for all employees, visitors, and contractors working within food facilities’ GMP areas. Handwashing is mandatory when entering food handling or processing areas, after using the restroom, after eating/drinking or smoking, touching the face (including nose, mouth, ears), and anytime hands have become soiled or contaminated (ex. using hoses or picking items up off of the floor).
What is required by the FDA?
The Food and Drug Administration’s 21 CFR 117 requires that food manufacturing and handling facilities install adequate handwashing facilities to ensure an employee’s hands are not a source of contamination of food, food-contact surfaces, or food-packaging materials. Handwashing facilities shall be equipped with running water at suitable temperatures (it is recommended that water is at a temperature of 100°F – 110°F).
What are the Handwashing Requirements of GFSI Schemes?
GFSI schemes such as SQF and BRCGS require that handwashing sinks be installed adjacent to all personnel access points and located throughout the facility where product is exposed. SQF requires that high risk areas are equipped with sinks made of stainless steel or non-corrosive materials and are furnished with hands-free water taps. Soap dispensers and hands-free paper towel dispensers (single use paper towels) shall be available. A waste receptacle shall be nearby so personnel can properly dispose of their paper towels. Additionally, signage shall be displayed at all handwashing facilities to instruct personnel to wash their hands before entering food processing or handling areas. Handwashing sinks should be used solely for washing hands – not shared with cleaning equipment or tools. Breakrooms should also have handwashing signs, and the breakroom sink should either be designated for handwashing or utensils, but not both!
BRCGS requires high care areas to have a handwashing procedure documented for personnel to follow during changing to prevent contamination of clean clothing. This could be requiring employees to wash their hands after putting on a hairnet, beard net, and their footwear before putting on their clean protective outer clothing.
How should hands be washed?
Personnel shall wash their hands with soap and warm running water for at least 20 seconds. Commonly missed areas are the outsides of the thumbs, finger tips, between fingers and the wrists. After washing, personnel shall dry their hands completely before returning to work or donning gloves. Sanitizers or hand dips may be used after hand washing to further disinfect hands.
When should hands be washed?
Hands shall be washed after using the restroom, using a handkerchief, upon entering a food processing or handling area, when hands or gloves are visibly soiled, after absence at a workstation, after smoking, eating or drinking, after handling wash down hoses, cleaning materials, dropped product or contaminated materials, after touching face or exposed skin, and after handling dropped product/materials.
These handwashing requirements also apply to facilities that utilize disposable gloves. Gloves do not override handwashing. Sanitizing hands also does not replace washing hands, and hand sanitizer stations should be clearly labeled.