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What are the Core Hygiene Zone Steps for Food Manufacturing?

by Meritech, on July 16,2020

There are 5 main steps that individuals should take when going through the core hygiene zone:

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Learn more about hygienic zoning in our Hygiene Zone Ebook - Download it here!

1. Footwear Donning & Sanitation


Team members should don plant shoes or boots, thoroughly sanitize their footwear and don shoe covers if necessary.

In step one, team members should don the appropriate plant footwear. Either they're going to change into their plant shoes or plant boots. After putting on the plant shoes or boots, they're going to sanitize the footwear before entering the hygiene zone.


When going through the footwear sanitation steps, it's important to ensure that team members are fully stepping in and having contact time with the sanitizing solution for a minimum of one second. 

Additionally, if applicable in your facility, if not changing into plant shoes or boots, you may want to don shoe covers before entering a hygiene zone. We highly recommend sanitizing the footwear before putting on these shoe covers as shoe covers only protect against dirt and debris, not pathogens.

Learn more about footwear hygiene best practices in our Footwear Hygiene eBook

2. Donning Frocks or Smocks

Team members should don their frock, smock and sleeve covers making sure all sleeves are pulled down to the wrist and all buttons are buttoned.

FrockPosters_PreviewIn step two, team members should don their frock or smock and if necessary, sleeve covers. When coming into the hygiene zone, team members should make certain they're using the correct size and a clean frock or smock that is free of dirt or damage. The sleeves should be pulled all the way down on both arms. All the buttons need to be fully fastened and or ties fully tied and not touching the floor. While donning the frock or smock, team members should ensure that the buttons are intact and not lose, as they may come off and contaminate food products.

If necessary in the facility, team members may need to don sleeve covers to protect the frock against excessive soils or water. These sleep covers should be at your wrist and all the way up the forearm.

Download Hygiene Posters like the one seen here to help
guide your team through the hygiene zone. 

3. Personal Protective Equipment

Team members should don PPE in the correct order: hearing protection, beard net, mask (if applicable), hair net, and eye protection.

Step three is all about donning the necessary personal protective equipment or PPE. This includes hearing protection, beard nets, if necessary masks, if necessary hairnets and safety glasses.

PPESteps-1The first step within the PPE phase is donning hearing protection. There are many options when it comes to hearing protection, so it's important to make certain that the hearing protection meets the company's standards for the tasks that team members are performing.

Once hearing protection is completed, if necessary, team members should don a beard net. It's important that they make certain that all facial hair and the nose is fully covered by the beard net.

If necessary team members should don a mask next. It's important that these individuals make sure that all the strings from the mask and/or the beard net are behind or over the ears.

The next PPE item that should be donned is the hairnet. Team members should ensure that it's fully open when donning and that the all hair is tucked into the hairnet, both on the sides and the back of your head. It's important that the ears are covered to ensure that the strings from the mask and beard net are covered as well.  

Finally team members should don eye protection. The eye protection needs to fit well, it should be snug to the head and ear pieces need to be under the hair net.

Watch this video to see all of these PPE and hygiene zone steps in action

4. Manual or Automated Handwashing

Either a full 20 second manual hand wash or a 12 second hand wash using an automated handwashing station


Step four is all about hand hygiene, the most important step in the hygiene zone for food safety. There are two handwashing options, either manual or fully automated. Hand-washing.

There is a 12 step process for manual hand washing. And this procedure should take 20 seconds or singing "Happy Birthday" to yourself twice.

This 12 step procedure poster is free to download here.

Fully automated hand-washing is much simpler. The employee just comes up to the CleanTech® Automated Handwashing Station and in 12 seconds, the station will fully wash sanitize and rinse the hands. The same for every user - it's quality control for hand hygiene.

5. Hand Drying

Step five, the final step within the hygiene zone processes, drying the hands. This can be done either with an air dryer or paper towel. We recommend paper towel as it is less likely to cross-contaminate the hands.

Check out our post "Hand Drying Methods Compared" for more information!

Make sure that you allow team members to take enough time to complete all the hygiene steps during these five phases of the core hygiene zone. By following these procedures, you're helping create a culture of hygiene excellence within your facility. 

At Meritech, we strive to educate hygiene leaders about best practices within their hygiene zone. Check out our Hygiene Zone Ebook to learn more about hygiene zone best practices or learn more about hygiene zone design consultations with our hygiene experts here. 

Topics:Food Processing