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February Cartoon: Jewelry Do's and Don'ts for Food Handlers
Cartoon of Mr. T wearing rings and sprinkling garnish on a salad with his bare hand

Did you know that germs on hands are responsible for 9 out of 10 incidents in which food is contaminated by food workers? Not only can germs spread when you forget to wash your hands, they can hitch a ride on jewelry worn on the hands or arms.

Poster summarizing the jewelry guidelines for food handlers

The FDA Food Code has the following guidelines about jewelry to help keep food safe:

  • You may wear plain metal rings, such as a wedding band.
  • You may wear jewelry that doesn't go on your hands or arms. For example, earrings, necklaces, and facial jewelry are technically allowed by the Food Code. But take care that they are securely fastened – they could become physical hazards if they fall into food! Ask your manager if your workplace has additional guidelines for these types of jewelry.
  • Don't wear rings with etchings or stones. These can trap food particles and germs, becoming biological hazards. In addition, rings with stones can tear your gloves, potentially leaving pieces of glove in food – yuck!
  • Don't wear watches or bracelets on your wrists. That includes smart watches, fitness trackers, and medical bracelets, especially if they have moving parts. Like rings, watches and bracelets can harbor food particles and germs, which can then spread to food.
    • Note that the Americans with Disabilities Act requires managers to make a reasonable accommodation for employees who must wear a medical alert bracelet. If you have a medical bracelet, work with your manager to come up with an acceptable alternative to wearing it on your wrist. For example, you might wear the information around your neck as a necklace or on your ankle as an ankle bracelet.

The Food Code does not specifically address medical devices like continuous glucose monitors and insulin pumps. If you use medical devices like these, we encourage you to wear them as usual to maintain your health. But it's a good idea to avoid wearing them on your hands and arms and be sure to wash your hands after touching them!

The "Jewelry Do's and Don'ts for Food Handlers" poster provides a good summary of these guidelines. Click on the image to download it for free!

— Jessica Pettit

Download/print cartoon: Mr. T Handling Food

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