When considering a kitchen as a workplace, food hygiene and safety are of utmost importance. The length of facial hair can impact the ability for a chef or cook to meet these standards. The U.S. Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetics Act enforces the regulations laid out by the Food and Drug Administration, placing restrictions on the amount longer an employee’s facial hair can extend in a food preparation setting. The laws have been developed to prevent the spread of bacteria caused by beards, mustaches and long hair.
In commercial food establishments, beards are estimated to harbor up to 6000 bacteria per square inch. These bacteria can be passed on to customers who consume the food prepared. If a beard is not kept conveniently short, the risk increases significantly. The guidelines prohibit long enough hair growth to reach inside of chef garments, jam long strands of hair in a toque or threaten kitchen safety.
In line with the Food and Drug Administration, the FDA sets out guidelines for food industry workers concerning beard length, mustache styles and hair covers. Generally, a mustache cannot exceed one-half of an inch away from the lip in any manner. Beards are expected not to exceed collar length and hair must not interfere with a worker’s ability to close the front of his or her uniform. Usually this means the beard cannot spread above the front of a worker’s shirt collar. Lastly, any hair must be completely covered by a hat or hairnet, and it must be restrained to make it not fall onto the shoulders throughout the course of the day.
In addition, food industry workers are expected to keep their beards groomed. It is especially important to groom the facial hair area thoroughly to remove bacteria from the skin. The risk of spreading bacteria is increased if the facial hair is unkempt. Eating with hands, wiping the face and other activities with such dirt on the face can easily spread bacteria on the many surfaces in the kitchen.
If an employee prefers to keep longer facial hair, it may be beneficial to look into alternative facial covering remedies such as beard guards, sneeze guards and other protective gear that can be worn on the face over the hair. Beard guards are made from a variety of materials, such as plastic, cloth and clear paper, and must be worn over the beard in order to slow the spread of bacteria from longer facial hair.
More sophisticated facial coverings come with face visors, providing full coverage to the facial hair area. Face shields help keep food safe in restaurants, hospitals and other settings where face protection and hygiene are paramount. Face shields help chefs and cooks keep the workplace safe and food away from potential contaminants. When worn properly, face shields provide an extra level of protection.
When it comes to keeping facial hair as unobtrusive and manageable as possible, chefs and cooks should take the initiative to maintain a well-groomed appearance. However, there are other issues surrounding facial covering in the kitchen setting. A health and safety issue that sometimes arises is hair, facial hair and other bacteria falling from the hats and hairnets, sometimes sending the airborne contaminants particles around the kitchen.
To eliminate this issue, the kitchen staff should be trained and educated in proper facial covering techniques, such as wearing tight hats with elastic bands and keeping hairnets snugly in place. Hats with ties and adjustable straps should be used to get a better fit and to minimize the risk of microbes being detached from the hats.
It is important that kitchen staff understand the importance of hygiene when it comes to facial hair length and covering in the kitchen. Keeping beards and mustaches clean and well groomed is the key to preventing the spread of bacteria and other contaminants. By following the Food and Drug Administration guidelines, employers and their employees can keep their kitchens clean and safe while also keeping a professional appearance.
Regularly checking and cleaning facial hair, ensuring that it is kept short and covered, and wearing facial coverings when necessary can help to ensure that kitchens are free of potential contaminants and that food is being prepared in a safe, hygienic environment. In addition, proper facial cleanliness and hygiene measures such as face shields and beard guards should be worn and regularly checked to further enhance safety.
Growing out a beard can be seen as a large statement or fashion choice and can impact the professional image of a chef or cook. Some kitchens may prefer to maintain a clean-shaven appearance, while others may be more open to longer styles. It is important to consider the aesthetics of the kitchen and to always remember to maintain a professional look that meets the restaurant’s dress code.
Shaving and grooming facial hair may be a personal preference for some, but when it comes to food preparation, it is important to follow the standards set by the Food and Drug Administration. By keeping facial hair clean and within the accepted length guidelines, kitchen staff can ensure that their workplaces are secure and their customers are safe from any potential contaminants.
The implications of facial hair on the safety of food preparation and consumption can be far reaching. If facial hair is not kept taut and within the accepted length standards of the FDA, the potential of spreading bacteria or foodborne illness exponentially increases. Therefore, it is important to remember the importance of maintaining a professional appearance and abiding by facial hair safety protocols.
By understanding the standards set out by the Food and Drug Administration and adhering to hygiene regulations, chefs and cooks can ensure that the food they prepare is safe and free of contamination. Keeping facial hair short and covered is the most effective way to do this, and it helps kitchens ensure that they are following the rules while presenting a professional and stylish look.