Personal health

It is important that people handling or processing meat are fit and healthy. Quite a number of outbreaks of food poisoning have been caused by people who are sick contaminating the meat product. You are required to tell management if you are suffering from diarrhoea or have infected wounds, sores or respiratory diseases.

If you cut yourself at work you must get the cut dressed immediately so the open wound does not contaminate the meat. The dressing put on the wound must be waterproof and brightly coloured.

Eating, drinking or smoking

Eating and smoking are restricted to designated areas – in some meatworks smoking is prohibited.

Only drink from the water dispenser and never from a hose in a meatworks because:

  • it has been lying on the ground and the end will be contaminated
  • it could be a hot water or high pressure hose
  • many plants recycle water and it could be unfit to drink.

Jewellery and cosmetics

The SOPs will tell you what you can and can’t wear in the way of jewellery or cosmetics. However, if there is any chance of the jewellery or cosmetics causing contamination, it should not be worn.

Personal habits

Spitting and fat throwing can contaminate the plant and the product and are banned in all meatworks.  In addition, employers expect you to present yourself for work fit to handle food.  There are several additional things which will improve your personal hygiene including:

  • brushing your teeth and gums daily
  • showering or taking a bath daily
  • washing your hair regularly
  • cleaning and trimming your fingernails
  • using a handkerchief when you sneeze or cough
  • changing your underwear daily
  • not picking your nose or biting your nails.

Cleaning your body

Your body is continually producing sweat to control its temperature.  Sweat is not just water. It has oils and odours in it as well. Areas that stay wet longer like armpits and crutches are ideal places for bacteria to grow.

Regular washing with soap will reduce the likelihood of bacteria multiplying on your body and reduce the risk of you contaminating the product.

Washing your hair

Oil and dead skin are caught and build up in your hair. This build up is an ideal place for bacteria to grow. Regularly washing your hair removes oil and skin.

You should keep your hair trimmed or controlled. This will reduce the chances of it contaminating product, or being a safety problem.

Keeping your fingernails cleaned and clipped

The area under your nails provides a warm moist place for bugs to grow. Regularly clipping and cleaning your nails with a brush reduces the chance for bugs to grow.

Using a handkerchief or tissue

If you have a cough or flu, it is possible to spread disease by coughing or sneezing. Bacteria are spread into the air and can be caught by others near you. You should not sneeze or cough into the open air. You should always use a handkerchief or tissue. Remember to wash your hands afterwards.

Cleaning your teeth

If you do not clean your teeth each day, you risk tooth decay and gum disease. Gum disease is painful and expensive to correct. Not only that, your teeth look yellow and your breath will usually smell (although not to you). You should visit the dentist regularly.

Wearing clean underwear

Wearing clean underwear everyday will stop the build-up of bacteria on these clothes and reduce the chances of disease.

Wearing clean clothes

You are issued with a uniform to protect you from the environment and protect the environment from you. It is up to you to keep your uniform clean. You should change and wash your clothes regularly.


Some parts of your body are naturally unclean; your nose and mouth to name a few.  Do not put your hands near these areas as bugs will pass from them to your hands.

What are the specific hygiene requirements for a job?

Each job or task has a list of work instructions or task descriptions which tell you how to do your job as well as the hygiene and sanitation practices required.

The work instructions or task descriptions will tell you when equipment has to be cleaned and sterilised and when you have to wash your hands.  It will also tell you what protective clothing you must wear in your area.

The work instructions for each task are written to meet the government requirements laid down in the AS 4696:2007 Australian Standard for the hygienic production and transportation of meat and meat products for human consumption and any other relevant government requirements.