GREENSBORO, N.C. — When you go to a restaurant, you subconsciously look around to make sure it is clean. You expect clean silverware, clean tables, clean bathrooms, but what about clean employees?
Good Morning Show viewer Ella Hairston wrote, "In the past few weeks, I have observed seeing lots of fast food employees heading into work already wearing their aprons, getting on or off public transportation in their work attire...."
Ella said she observed a uniformed fast food employee smoking in a parking lot before heading into the building.
She asked, "Are there not any sanitation laws which require workers to put on their work aprons at least after they arrive at work?"
- NC Food Code Manual
- Paula Cox - Guilford County Environmental Health Manager
- FDA Food Safety Guide
- Fast Food Chain Representatives
Guilford County environmental health manager Paula Cox said the Guilford County Health Department addresses employee clothing during restaurant inspections. Inspectors look to see whether employees are wearing clean outer clothes to prevent contamination of food, equipment or utensils. If, during an inspection, there are employees doing tasks that dirty their aprons, the inspector requires them to change their aprons before handling food.
The North Carolina Food Code manual section 2-4 regards hygienic practices. It explains, "An employee shall eat, drink or use any form of tobacco only in designated areas where the contamination of exposed food, clean equipment, utensils and linens...and single-use articles...cannot result."
The FDA explains food service employees must bathe daily and arrive to work in a clean uniform. Aprons are part of the uniform and should be worn in food production and serving areas only. The FDA mandates that employees not wear their aprons when using the restroom or taking out the garbage.
A spokesperson from Biscuitville said, "Our Biscuitville employees are allowed to smoke in designated areas outside. They are not allowed to wear their uniform off the Biscuitville property. They are also not permitted to wear their apron during restroom or smoke breaks."
A representative for Chick-Fil-A explained all employees, franchise operators and restaurants must follow FDA food safety regulations and county health department guidelines.
Yes, fast food employees must uphold federal, state and county health requirements and cannot wear their aprons outside of restaurant food preparation areas. If you have concerns, report them to your local county health department.
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