Skip main navigation

Hair, fingernails, jewellery, rings and watches

Why is it important to keep nails and hair clean? We explain the kitchen rules and why they are important.
Some food safety laws make it a requirement to wear a hair net
As we explained earlier in the course, humans carry trillions of bacteria on their bodies including in their hair, on their skin and under their fingernails. Apart from bacteria contaminating food, jewellery and other foreign objects can fall into the food, for this reason, kitchens have strict hygiene standards.


Hair can be a source of food poisoning bacteria and contamination.

  • Microbiological contamination as the human scalp often contains Staphylococcus Aureus, a food poisoning organism.
  • Hair falling into food is one of the leading physical contaminants in food, along with stones, metal pieces, insect parts, rodent droppings.

Hair must be:

  • Washed regularly.
  • Long hair tied back and kept under a chef hat or skull cap or covered with a hairnet to prevent loose hair falling into food.
  • Never touch, scratch or comb your hair or head in the kitchen as bacteria and loose hair could be transferred to the food or food preparation equipment.


Fingernails can easily trap dirt and pathogens, such as staphylococcus and Escherichia Coli (found in faeces).

All food workers, chefs and front of house must:

  • Fingernails should be kept short and clean.
  • When washing your hands, be sure to take time to scrub underneath your fingernails. This helps remove the dirt that could be trapped underneath your nails.
  • Nail polish or artificial nails must not be worn in the kitchen.

Jewellery, rings and watches

The wearing of jewellery is not acceptable when handling food.

  • Jewellery will trap particles of food and skin cells.
  • It will provide a warm damp environment for bacteria to grow, which can be transferred to food being prepared.
  • Jewellery or parts of jewellery can fall into food.
  • Body piercing items can also be a breeding ground for bacteria.
  • Body piercing should be removed or completely covered before handling food items.

© International Culinary Studio
This article is from the free online

Food Safety and Personal Hygiene in a Professional Kitchen

Created by
FutureLearn - Learning For Life

Reach your personal and professional goals

Unlock access to hundreds of expert online courses and degrees from top universities and educators to gain accredited qualifications and professional CV-building certificates.

Join over 18 million learners to launch, switch or build upon your career, all at your own pace, across a wide range of topic areas.

Start Learning now