Personnel and Handling

Personnel and Handling Checklist


Having comprehensive personnel and handling policies can help minimize the risk of contamination of food, ingredients, processing aids, packaging materials, and food contact surfaces.

Use these checklists - in conjunction with the sample Personnel Practices Policies and Handling and Storage Policies provided at the end of this section - to help you in building effective personnel and handling policies for your facility.

Your Personnel and Handling Policies should include:

Personnel Practices Policies

  • Standards for personal hygiene and cleanliness including:
    • good personal grooming habits (e.g. clean and trimmed nails)
    • coughing and sneezing into the elbow
Restricted Activities and Behaviors
  • Watches, necklaces, chains, bracelets, earrings, rings and exposed piercings should not be worn in food handling and storage areas
    • exceptions should be made for medic alert jewelry, as long as they are properly secured and covered
  • Fingernail polish, false eyelashes or fingernails, badges, pins, etc. should not be worn food handling and storage areas
  • Glass and brittle material should not be brought into food handling and storage areas
    • exceptions should be made for eyewear
  • The types of foods brought into the facility by personnel should be restricted depending on the type of product processed (e.g. no nuts allowed due to the potential for cross-contamination)
  • Personnel should not eat, drink, smoke, chew gum or tobacco, spit, or take medication in food handling and storage areas
Clothing and Footwear

Note: Protective clothing includes coats, smocks, aprons, gloves, footwear, hairnets, helmets and face coverings.

Instructions for care, use and storage of protective clothing worn in your facility, including:

  • All street clothing is covered and contained
  • Items are durable and cleanable or single use
  • Items are clean and in good repair
  • Soiled clothing is laundered regularly
  • Clothing worn in processing areas should be light in colour, with no external pockets or pouches below the waist
  • In incompatible areas (e.g. allergen preparation; raw or cooked areas), use distinctive colour-coded clothing and provide instructions on when clothing should be applied (e.g. upon entering or leaving)
  • When items like pens, stopwatches and thermometers must be brought into processing areas, they are carried below the waist
  • Protective clothing must be removed before entering washrooms, lunchrooms, smoking areas and outdoors
  • Designated areas (e.g. lockers, racks and/or hooks) should be provided for storing protective clothing, footwear and headwear separate from street clothes and personal items
  • Only gloves suitable for food use should be provided, and in a distinctive colour where possible
  • Gloves should be intact, shed no loose fibres, and be replaced regularly
  • Gloves do not exempt personnel from proper hand washing practices
  • Hairnets must restrain all hair
  • Beards and moustaches must be covered
Designated Areas For
  • Eating and drinking
    • exceptions can be made for drinking fountains in work areas
  • Food storage - not in change room lockers
  • Smoking areas
  • Use and storage of personal medications
Visitors and Contractors
  • Visitors and contractors must follow the same policies and procedures as
    employees - if appropriate, consider creating a separate policy for visitors and contractors
  • Visitors and contractors are provided with a copy of the policies and procedures for personnel practices and handling
  • Have visitors and contractors sign in and out of the facility using a visitors log:
    • they can also use the log to sign-off that they have read and understood the policies and procedures for personnel practices and handling
  • Put in place a process for a designated facility escort to be with visitors and contractors while in the facility
Hand Washing
  • When to wash hands:
    • upon entering food processing and handling areas
    • following breaks
    • after use of personnel facilities (lunchroom, washroom, change room, smoking area)
    • following any actions that may contaminate their hands
  • How to wash hands - follow steps for proper hand washing:
    • wet hands and forearms with warm water
    • use soap
    • lather vigorously for 20 seconds - sing Happy Birthday twice
    • rinse
    • dry
    • keep hands clean (where hands-free faucets are not available, turn off the tap and open door with paper towel)
    • throw away paper towel
  • Signs posted to ensure personnel, visitors and contractors follow proper hand washing procedures
  • If gloves are to be used by personnel, visitors and contractors, they wash their hands before putting gloves on
Illness and Injury

Note: Illness and injury policies apply to all personnel, visitors and contractors.

  • Ensure that personnel who are suffering from, show symptoms of, or are known to be carriers of an illness transmissible through food report to their supervisor immediately:
    • reports should be made before the beginning of the workday or as soon as symptoms appear
    • supervisors should familiarize themselves with symptoms of infectious diseases so that those showing these symptoms are excluded from the food handling area and do not work directly with food, ingredients, processing aids, packaging material or food contact surfaces - alternative work duties can be arranged
    • a doctor's note may be required to allow employees to return to their regular work duties after an illness
    • new employees, visitors and contractors should confirm that they are free from a disease transmissible through food
  • Ensure that personnel with open cuts do not handle food, ingredients, processing aids, packaging materials or food contact surfaces unless measures are taken to prevent direct or indirect contamination of food:
    • all cuts and grazes on exposed skin should be covered with company-issued gloves
    • all waterproof bandages should be changed at a frequency that allows the covering to remain effective
  • Ensure there is a written policy to follow if food, ingredients, processing aids, packaging materials or food contact surfaces are contaminated from an illness or injury during work
Access and Traffic Patterns
  • Ensure there are written policies to control access and movement of personnel, visitors and contractors in your facility to prevent or minimize contamination of food, ingredients, processing aids, packaging materials or food contact surfaces
  • Ensure there are designated traffic patterns for all personnel to follow:
    • personnel should be restricted to the immediate area of their workstations
    • access to workstations should be as direct as possible (e.g. personnel working in cooked product areas should not travel through raw product areas)
    • if circulation through the facility is required, then clothes are changed, hands are washed, and footwear is sanitized
    • if your facility handles allergens, traffic patterns should include instructions to ensure allergens are not tracked into areas where non-allergen products and ingredients are handled, processed or stored
    • markings on the floor, signs and physical partitions as well as a facility schematic should be used to designate traffic patterns
  • Provide restrictions to control and limit access to authorized personnel only:
    • colour-coded uniforms or markings on uniforms (e.g. coloured collar, helmets) can indicate employees/visitors/contractors' designated area and if they are in the wrong area
    • truck drivers should be restricted to shipping and receiving areas
    • visitors and contractors should follow designated traffic patterns
    • entry and movement restrictions should be enforced during working and non-working hours
    • points of entry to the facility should be identified and enforced for employees, visitors, contractors, pest control operators, drivers, etc.

Handling Policies

Handling and Storage of Utensils

Note: Utensils are any mobile piece of equipment that personnel can move around and that can potentially cause cross-contamination, e.g. scoops, pails, garbage containers, shovels, carts. Taking utensils into incompatible areas has the potential to cause cross-contamination.

  • Mark utensils clearly to identify their use and area of use (e.g. colour-coded handles):
    • provide instructions for handling of utensils used for allergens
    • clearly identify maintenance tools
    • provide instruction for proper handling of maintenance utensils (e.g. keep tools off of food contact surfaces)
  • Post signs and/or pictures in your facility to show proper storage and handling of utensils
  • Provide designated storage for utensils (e.g. cabinets, labeled racks, shelves or hooks):
    • utensils should be stored in a way that prevents contamination from processing or cleaning activities before their next use
  • Provide separate storage areas for clean and dirty utensils
Product Handling and Storage

Note: Handling is a general term that describes transporting, processing, or storing of food, ingredients, processing aids and packaging materials within your facility.

  • Securely cover food, ingredients, processing aids, and packaging material when they are stored or moved through your facility so as to prevent cross-contamination
  • Provide designated areas for storing and handling any dry, refrigerated and frozen items
  • Allow only packaging material currently in use in processing areas and remove it before cleaning and sanitizing begin
  • Take refrigerated or frozen food and ingredients directly to the designated refrigerator or freezer
  • Take humidity-sensitive ingredients directly into the appropriate dry storage area with humidity control
  • Provide instructions for food, ingredients, processing aids, or packaging materials that have fallen to the floor or become otherwise contaminated
  • Prevent food, ingredients, processing aids, and packaging material from touching the floor through the use of skids, tables or carts
  • Store all skids, racks and equipment away from the wall to prevent the harborage of pests and enable inspection
  • Rotate food, ingredients, processing aids and packaging materials based on FIFO (first-in-first-out), or based on expiration date or shelf-life if they apply
  • Provide instructions for handling and storing allergens:
    • make sure you are aware of all allergens in your facility, including a clear understanding of your ingredients, their sub-ingredients and processing aids
    • use a facility schematic to show the flow of allergens through your facility - including where they are received, stored, processed and packaged, and potential points of cross-contamination
    • provide designated processing and storage areas, and containers and utensils for all allergens and products containing allergens
    • consider separating processing of allergen-containing products by room or line or at the very least by time (e.g. process allergen-containing product at the end of the production day followed by rigorous cleaning and sanitizing).
  • Provide controls for defective and suspect items or a hold procedure:

Note: Defective means items that are damaged, compromised or out of specifications. Suspect means items that are potentially unsafe and require further testing.

    • use a clear identification system for defective or suspect items (e.g. colour-coded labels that are distinctly different from product labels)
    • isolate all affected items through signage, labels, caution tape, or physical lockup
    • consider designating a separate area for defective and suspect items
    • control items to ensure they are not accidentally reused or re-shipped
    • provide instructions for conducting an examination or evaluation to determine the disposition of defective or suspect items
Chemical Control
  • All chemicals used in your facility (including sanitation, pest control, maintenance and water treatment chemicals) should be acceptable for use in a food facility. The CFIA's Reference Listing of Accepted Construction Materials, Packing Materials and Non-Food Chemicals Products provides a list of approved chemicals
  • Instructions are provided for receiving and handling chemicals to prevent cross-contamination:
    • received in a separate location or at a separate time than food, ingredients, processing aids and packaging materials
    • received only if they on your list of acceptable chemicals and are from an approved supplier
    • receiving personnel provided with a list of approved chemicals and approved suppliers to cross-reference at the time of chemical receipt
  • Chemicals for use within the facility should be stored separately from other types of chemicals
  • Chemical storage locations should be separate from food, ingredients, processing aids, and packaging materials, with secure and controlled access e.g. separate locked room or locked cabinet
  • Chemicals should be clearly labeled for intended use, and when dispensed into smaller containers should be labeled, including name and concentration:
    • labeling system should be recognizable at a glance
    • labeling system should distinguish between chemicals allowed in processing areas and those that are not
  • Chemicals are mixed and used according to the manufacturer's instructions:
    • chemical concentrations should be checked (test strips and reagents) and recorded
    • concentrations should be checked before use
Waste Management
  • Identify all waste materials in your facility
  • Identify the location and flow of all waste throughout your facility, and potential points of cross-contamination
  • Provide adequate waste receptacles:
    • waste receptacles are of sufficient size to handle the amount of waste produced
    • waste receptacles are colour-coded or labelled
    • waste receptacles are placed in appropriate locations
  • Provide instructions for handling and storing waste in a manner that prevents cross-contamination:
    • empty waste receptacles after the processing shift, or during breaks
    • cover waste while transporting it through the facility
    • do not allow waste to come in contact with product or food contact surfaces
    • only use designated utensils for handling waste
    • ensure personnel wash their hands and their uniform after handling waste
    • ensure indoor waste storage areas are an appropriate size to handle the amount of waste produced
    • ensure indoor waste storage areas are properly ventilated to prevent odours and fumes from exiting the waste storage area
    • maintain outdoor waste storage areas to avoid attracting pests

Useful Resources

Building a Personnel and Handling Training Procedure


An effective personnel and handling training procedure ensures personnel understand the appropriate procedures to follow. To help you build training procedures for your facility, use this checklist in conjunction with the sample personnel and handling training procedures provided at the end of this section.

Your Personnel and Handling Training Procedure should include:

  • Personnel who require training
  • Frequency of training (e.g. upon hiring, when change or incident occurs, minimum annually)
  • Person responsible to deliver training and keep records
  • A process to ensure all appropriate personnel are present for training
  • A list of training supports and samples such as:
    • copies of your personnel and handling procedure
    • copies of your personnel and handling records
    • hands-on demonstration and practice, e.g. glowing lotion and ultraviolet light demonstrates how effectively hands are washed
    • videos and other visual aids, e.g. GMP Personnel Practices DVD
  • A method to assess that training was understood by participants (e.g. a written or verbal test and/or job shadowing)
  • Corrective actions to take if training assessment results are not acceptable

Your Personnel and Handling Training Records should include:

  • Who was in attendance, with space for employees to initial or sign to indicate they received the training
    • Date of training
    • Training topic
    • Material(s) used for training
    • Name of trainer along with trainer's signature
    • Results of training assessments

Useful Resources

Building a Personnel and Handling Verification Procedure


An effective personnel and handling verification procedure ensures personnel are following the appropriate procedures in your facility. Follow this checklist - in conjunction with the sample Personnel and Handling Verification Procedures provided at the end of this section - to help you in building an effective personnel and handling verification procedure for your facility.

Your Personnel and Handling Verification Procedure should include:

  • Who performs the verification
  • When/how often they perform the verification
  • What is to be verified
  • How they perform the verification (e.g. observation or interviews with personnel)
  • Corrective action procedures to be taken if verification results show that activities are not being conducted as written, or if any deviation is found
  • A process for verifying correctness and completeness of records including:
    • mistakes have been crossed through with a single line and initialled by the designated employee, and liquid paper has not been used
    • documents have been completed in permanent ink (no pencil)
    • all records are signed and dated by the designated employee
    • no blank spaces have been left on the record - if necessary, "N/A" was recorded
    • the activities have been carried out in the appropriate frequency
    • there is no evidence of falsified entries
    • all deviations and corrective actions are documented and are suitable
    • if a deviation was recurring, a root cause analysis was conducted

Your Personnel and Handling Verification Records should include: should include:

Note: Verification records can be separate from monitoring records, or space can be allocated on the monitoring records to record the verification results

  • Who performed the verification
  • Procedure that is being verified
  • When the verification was performed
  • Verification of results/findings
  • Any deviations
  • Corrective actions taken if deviations were found
  • Records signed and initialed when completed

Useful Resources

For more information:
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Author: OMAFRA Staff
Creation Date: 4 December 2103
Last Reviewed: 08 June 2018