When you work in the food processing industry, it's vital that your employees are wearing the right uniform. Sterile clothes are an obvious necessity to prevent cross-contamination but your team also need to be wearing items that allow them to work safely and productively. Here's what you need to know about food processing uniforms, what items to wear and where to buy them.
What Employees Should be Wearing
Food handling uniforms are designed for hygiene, comfort and function. They are meant to protect the employee from the products and machinery, as well as keeping themselves clean and contaminant-free when handling food.
Garments should only have pockets below the waist and buttons aren't recommended unless necessary, in order to prevent debris from falling into the food or getting caught in machinery. Ensure garments are properly fitted with the correct sleeve and body length so they aren't trailing and becoming a hazard. Uniforms should be made of durable materials since they will be washed and decontaminated regularly - and sometimes need repairs.
Some common uniform items worn by food processing employees are:
Butcher and Other Food Service Coats and Smocks
Long coats with pockets below the waist and smocks are often worn by food processing employees to protect their clothes from getting stained. Coats and smocks may have button fastenings or they may be a wraparound style with a cord fastening.
Work shirts should be pocketless and covered up with smocks if they have buttons. Shirts with popper buttons are preferred to avoid things falling into food or catching on machinery.
Flexi-Waist Pants or Chef Pants
Trousers should be made from durable, breathable materials and the dyes should not run or stain. This is to avoid cross-contamination and so employees can work comfortably and productivity isn't impacted.
Gloves (Disposable and Non Disposable)
Food processing employees should be using a mixture of disposable and non disposable gloves for different purposes. These include:
- Cut-resistant meat and fish processing gloves
- Disposable gloves for meat and fish handling
- Food preparation gloves
- Disposable food handling gloves
- Latex and vinyl canner gloves
- Cut-resistant vegetable processing gloves
- Disposable vegetable processing gloves
- Food distribution gloves
- Bakers mitts
The type of gloves you need for your employees will vary by industry. Gloves should not contain powder or any materials that can shed into the food. The thickness of the gloves will vary depending on the job role. Waterproof gloves are also a good idea.
Aprons should be food safe and made from durable materials that do not shed. You may find it more economical to buy disposable tear-resistant poly aprons that can be replaced each time an employee moves to a new area.
Food-Safe Hats, Hairnets and Beard Guards
Hats, hairnets (bouffants) and beard guards protect food from stray hairs. These should be disposable (particularly hairnets and beard guards) to prevent contamination, lightweight and comfortable.
Slip-Resistant Safety Shoes
Every food processing employee should wear slip-resistant shoes, especially when working in a hectic environment where food and drink can easily fall and spill, creating potential hazards. Slips, trips, and falls are the most common workplace accident so it’s vital you protect your workers from harm - or direct them on where to buy recommended footwear.
Since they are also on their feet all day, it’s a good idea to invest in shoes that offer joint support, extra cushioning and other special features to keep them comfortable all throughout their shift.
Make sure all employees are wearing the correct clothing and footwear, and that strict hygiene rules are adhered to. You can also implement a colour coordinating system, such as entire colour-coded uniforms or colour-coded aprons.
For example, an employee prepping raw meat, for example, will be wearing a blue garment and the person in charge of desserts in yellow. Coloured apparel ensures that people are in the right areas - not in restricted ones - and everyone can know what’s going on and where each person should be, which also helps with management and preventing cross-contamination.
Want to Find Out More About Food Processing Uniforms?
There's a lot more that you need to know when it comes to food processing uniforms and ensuring your team's safety. Choosing the appropriate safety footwear is the first step you can take.
Download a FREE copy of our product catalogue to browse our extensive range of slip-resistant shoes for a variety of working environments.