Eyebrows have been raised over a scene inside a Woolworths store that sparked a heated row online.
An employee working in one of the supermarket’s bakeries in South Australia was photographed not wearing gloves while handling a bag that presumably had a baked item inside.
A shopper disturbed by the sight took to Facebook with the image, asking the retailer if the conduct he witnessed was standard practice.
“Is this considered as correct safe food handling?,” he wrote on Thursday.
An employee responded saying they were “sorry to see what you've witnessed in one of our stores” and said they would reply to his separate message sent privately to the Woolworths account.
A Woolworths spokesperson confirmed to Yahoo News Australia staff have been trained to wear gloves while handling food.
“We take food safety and quality very seriously so we’re disappointed to have missed the mark on this occasion,” the spokesperson said.
“While this appears to be an isolated incident we are following up the customer’s report directly with the in-store team as a priority.”
Debate over need to wear gloves in bakery
Several others chimed in on the discussion, many arguing that gloves were not mandatory for staff working in the bakery.
In response to one such comment, the man posed the question of whether he would be cleared to touch bakery items if he rubbed his nose or scratched his armpit while not wearing gloves.
“Who is to say that they didn’t wash their hands after going to the toilet?” he added.
Social media users pointed out that workers could engage in the same unhygienic acts even if they were wearing gloves.
“People do all of these things with gloves on. It's food safety regulations, take it up with the government,” one hit back.
“No bakery is required to wear them. Hands are washed regularly.”
“I can still rub my nose with gloves on you know. Very silly and illogical post,” another said.
“What sort of magical abilities do you think gloves have that stop people from rubbing their nose, scratching, touching their face?” someone else wrote.
Another person argued regular hand washing was “way more hygienic than gloves due to gloves having a higher chance to cross contaminate”.
Food safety policies on wearing gloves
The Australian Food Standards Code does not require food handlers to use gloves.
If employees do wear gloves, they must be replaced before handing food, before handling ready-to-eat food and after handling raw food, after using the toilet, smoking, coughing, sneezing, using a handkerchief, eating, drinking or touching the hair, scalp or body.
According to Safe Work Australia, the wearing of gloves in food handling environments is not mandatory, however their use is recommended in appropriate settings.
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