Hair is a major contamination risk in food processing, particularly when workers have facial hair. In this case, a hair net or other hair restraint should be worn to prevent dislodged or unruly hair from contaminating food.
In the food industry, hairnets and bouffant caps are common protective gear used by cooks, caterers, and other employees who prepare food that will be served to customers or self-served by staff. Other types of workers, such as laboratory researchers or chemical manufacturing personnel, may also wear hair or beard nets for protection against the contaminating effects of human hair.
Occupational health and safety regulations require that hair restraints be worn while food handlers work near unwrapped foods, clean equipment and utensils, and other single-service articles in the food production area. Bar staff, servers, and other front-of-house food service workers who do not have direct contact with unwrapped foods are exempt from this requirement.
When implementing a hair restraint program, supervisors must ensure that all employees are aware of the need to wear the appropriate hair covering while working. This can be done through periodic employee orientation or yearly refresher training sessions.
The type of hair covering worn depends on the job position and specific workplace conditions. The FDA Food Code allows the use of hair nets, baseball caps, and hats to hold dislodged or unruly facial and body hair in place and away from food or equipment.
Hair nets and hats should be made of a material that provides particulate and liquid protection. These materials can be made of various fibers, including nylon and polypropylene.