Selling Homemade Food Products in NH - The Basics - Health and Hygiene [Fact Sheet]

hand washing, hygiene

Sick workers and poor hygiene practices can contaminate food and cause foodborne illness outbreaks and other diseases such as colds and flus. Implementing health and hygiene policies can help reduce unwanted contamination of your product.

How Workers Contaminate Food

Food handlers can contaminate food in many ways, for example:

  • When they are sick
  • When caring for someone who is sick
  • When they have exposed cuts, sores or open wounds that are infected
  • When hands and/or clothing are contaminated

Health and Hygiene Policies and Training

Hold trainings on health and hygiene policies to keep workers aware of expectations. Develop health and hygiene policies and review them at least yearly with employees. Suggested training topics include basic hygiene, recommended handwashing technique, and reporting injury or illness.

Worker Health

Anyone with the following symptoms should not be permitted to handle food or enter the processing area:

  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • Jaundice (a yellowing of the skin and eyes)
  • Sore throat with a fever

Owners and workers diagnosed by a health practitioner with an illness caused by these pathogens, must wait until their health practitioner and/or regulatory authority, such as a health department, indicates it is safe to handle food:

  • Salmonella Typhi or non-typhoidal Salmonella
  • Shigella spp.
  • Norovirus
  • Hepatitis A
  • Escherichia coli (E. coli)

Recommended Handwashing Practices

Good handwashing is one of the best ways to reduce the spread of illnesses and diseases. Clean hands help keep food and containers safe during processing. Follow these guidelines for how and when to wash your hands:

How to wash your hands:

  • Wet hands with warm, drinkable water
  • Apply soap – enough to build up a good lather
  • Scrub hands and arms vigorously for 20 seconds. Be sure to clean between fingers and under fingernail
  • Rinse hands and arms thoroughly using warm, drinkable water
  • Dry hands and arms using a single-use paper towel or hand dryer. Use the paper towel to turn off the faucet or open the door when leaving the restroom.

  When to wash hands:

  • Before starting work
  • Before and after eating, drinking, or smoking
  • After using the bathroom
  • When changing processing tasks
  • After touching your hair or clothing
  • After coughing or sneezing
  • After touching anything that might contaminate your hands

For More Information:

Food Processing Authority University of Maine- Beth Calder,  207-581-2791

Food processors

Floor plan review


NH Food Protection Food Safety and Defense Specialist-Royann Bossidy   603-271-3989

NH Food Protection Frequently Asked Questions about Homestead Food Businesses

New Hampshire He-P 2300  Sanitary Production and Distribution of Food

Retail food establishments - commercial kitchens

UNH Extension Food Safety Field Specialists

Mary Saucier Choate,   603-787-6944

Ann Hamilton,   603-447-3834


Funding for this project provided by USDA-NIFA Award 2018-70020-28876.

Created July, 2020 by Ann Hamilton, UNH Extension Food & Agriculture Field Specialist.