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Cooperative Extension: Food & Health

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Maine Garden to Lunchroom - Personal Hygiene

Step 3:

Personal Hygiene

With the trend of growing or buying locally grown produce increasing rapidly, it is vital to understand proper procedures for preventing foodborne illness.

Foodborne illness is commonly traced back to people who handle food. This means it is imperative to use good personal hygiene habits when harvesting or preparing produce for storage or eating.

In the garden or while harvesting

  • Remember that your clothes and shoes can provide vehicles for cross contamination.
  • When working in the compost or manure, make sure you wash your shoes prior to venturing to the vegetable garden.
  • If anyone is sick, especially exhibiting such symptoms as diarrhea or vomiting, they should be excused from working in the garden.
  • Hands with cuts or sores can contaminated produce.
    • Wash hands well and cover cuts or sores with a clean bandage and disposable gloves.

In the house or kitchen

  • Have separate clothes and shoes for the garden and the kitchen.
  • After working in the garden, using the restroom or before preparing food. you should always wash your hands well.
    • Wash with warm soapy water for 20 seconds.
    • Use a nail brush to clean soil for under fingernails.
    • Dry with a paper towel.
    • Hand sanitizers are only intended for clean hands after soil has been removed with water and soap.
  • Do not apply sanitizers when hand are covered in soil.
  • Change out of garden clothes before preparing food in the kitchen.

Continue to Step 4: Harvesting Garden Produce.

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University of Maine Cooperative Extension

Contact Information

Cooperative Extension: Food & Health
5741 Libby Hall
Orono, Maine 04469-5741
Phone: 207.581.3188, 800.287.0274 (in Maine) or 800.287.8957 (TDD)E-mail:
The University of Maine
Orono, Maine 04469
A Member of the University of Maine System