Good personal hygiene is key to keeping food safe and preventing foodborne illnessess.
One important component of good personal hygiene is the use of a hair restraint or net.
However, you may wonder who needs to wear one while in the kitchen.
This article explains who is required to wear a hair restraint while working, and provides other good personal hygiene tips.
Who must wear a hair restraint?
Hair is a physical hazard that can fall into or get into food.
For this reason, everyone who enters the kitchen — whether working or not — must wear a hair restraint, and anyone with a beard must wear a beard restraint.
However, food workers such as counter staff or who only serve beverages and wrapped or packaged foods, hostesses, and wait staff don’t need to wear a hair restraint (1).
A hair restraint — also known as a hair net or cover — protects hair from falling into food or on to food-contact surfaces like prep tables.
Wearing a hair restraint also makes it less likely that hair or dead skin cells will contaminate food or food-contact surfaces if you try fixing your hair or scratching your scalp.
For this reason, even if you have no hair or have a shaved head, you must still wear a hair restraint.
All employees — whether working or not — who enter the kitchen must wear a hair restraint to prevent their hair and other dead skin cells from contaminating food.
Types of hair restraints and how to wear one
Hair restraints include any item that restrains the hair effectively.
The most common type of hair restraint is a hair net, which usually come in brown but also blue.
Another common type is a bouffant cap, which look more like the hair covering used in operating rooms. These are commonly white but can also be blue.
Hair nets and bouffant caps are elastic and disposable.
The Food and Drug Administration Food Code also allows a hat — such as a baseball cap — but it should be clean and worn properly to keep the hair in place (1).
Chefs and cooks can wear chef hats or headwraps as effective hair restraints.
In either case, the type of hair restraint you wear will likely depend on what your food establishment supplies or allows.
From hair nets to bouffant caps to baseball caps, there are many types of effective hair restraints. However, you will likely be limited to what your food establishment provides or allows.
Other good personal hygiene and cleanliness rules to follow
Remember, wearing a hair restraint to prevent hair or dead skin cells from contaminating food and food-contact surfaces is just one component of good personal hygiene.
Here are other good personal hygiene and cleanliness practices to follow:
- Only eat, drink, or use tobacco or vape products in designated areas, away from food, clean equipment, and utensils and linens.
- Don’t work with or around food and equipment if you are experiencing persistent sneezing, coughing, or have a runny nose.
- If you have a cut or infected wound on your hand or finger, cover it with a bandage and single-use glove.
- Avoid handling animals that may be present, such as patrol dogs or service animals.
- Wash your hands properly in designated handwashing sinks when they become contaminated and between glove changes.
- Keep your fingernails, trimmed, filed, and maintained so the edges and surfaces are smooth.
- Avoid wearing fingernail polish or artificial fingernails, unless you wear a single-use glove at all times
- Except for a plain ring or a wedding band, avoid wearing jewelry, including medical information jewelry, on your arms and hands.
- Always wear clean outer clothing.
Following these best good personal hygiene and cleanliness practices will reduce the risk of food contamination and keep your customers safe from foodborne illnesses.
Along with wearing an effective hair restraint, don’t forget to follow and practice the other good personal hygiene and cleanliness rules for food safety.
The bottom line
Every employee who enters the kitchen must wear an effective hair restraint, whether they are working or not.
The type of hair restraint you can wear will likely depend on what your food establishment supplies or allows.
Along with wearing a hair restraint, make sure to follow other good personal hygiene and cleanliness rules for food safety.
Get Our Food Safety Newsletter
Be among the first to know when we release new courses and articles.