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Hair Restraints for Foodservice

Hair is a physical contaminant that can fall into food, so foodservice establishments must require hair restraints to prevent food contamination and possible health code violations. This guide will go over the different types of hair coverings for foodservice and food safety hair rules to ensure your employees follow a proper dress code in your restaurant.

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Foodservice Hair Restraints

Not only does hair negatively affect the perception of your establishment, but it can also cause a foodborne illness. Hair can be controlled in food preparation by covering it with a hair restraint. Below are the five most common types of hair restraints in foodservice establishments:

Restaurant Equipment

1. Chef Hat

If you operate a high-end or fine dining establishment, you may opt for a traditional chef hat to cover your kitchen staff's hair. They are made with cotton, polyester, and poly-cotton blend fabrics that are lightweight, breathable, and often moisture-wicking to ensure comfort throughout long shifts. Many chef hats feature an adjustable strap to fit various head sizes.

In addition to keeping hair restrained, chef hats complete a chef's uniform. There are several different chef hats to choose from, and some, like the toque hat, are used to denote seniority rank in the kitchen. However, the choice usually comes down to the restaurant's aesthetic and the types of chefs in the kitchen.

Restaurant Equipment

2. Hair Net

Ideal for high-volume cafeterias, fast casual restaurants, and grocery stores, disposable hair nets cover and mat down the hair to prevent loose strands from falling into contact with food or other important prep surface areas. They are typically made with a nylon or polyester mesh material and are the most affordable type of hair restraint.

Because of the mesh design, hair nets are breathable and comfortable to wear. However, the small openings could potentially allow hair to pass through. Just like disposable gloves, throw disposable hair nets away after using them or if they are damaged.

Restaurant Equipment

3. Beard Net

Food handlers with facial hair must wear a beard net while working. Similarly to hair nets, beard covers feature an elastic band that stretches to fit all beard and face sizes. They are also made with nylon or polyester mesh material for excellent breathability.

The beard length that requires a covering may be different from state to state. For example, Florida requires hair restraints for beards and mustaches longer than 1/2 inch. If you are unsure if your bearded employees need to wear a bear covering, you should confirm with your local health department.

Restaurant Equipment

4. Bouffant Cap

An excellent alternative to traditional hair nets, bouffant caps are made with cloth-like, non-woven material that is lightweight, breathable, and provides a particulate barrier. In addition to foodservice establishments, bouffant caps are used in food manufacturing plants, pharmaceutical setups, industrial settings, and healthcare environments.

Bouffant caps come in two styles - pleated and non-pleated. Pleated bouffant caps provide a more secure fit and feature an accordion design that makes it easier to dispense from bulk packaging. Non-pleated bouffant caps come flat and are the most popular choice for foodservice establishments.

Restaurant Equipment

5. Chef Cap

Ideal for quick-serve restaurants, fast food restaurants, and food truck operators, chef caps will keep your uniforms casual while still covering your staff's hair. They are made with breathable, quick-drying cotton, polyester, or poly-cotton blend fabrics and have venting holes for comfortable wear throughout long shifts.

Chef caps are common for front-of-house food handlers that may not be prepping or cooking the food but still have direct contact with food, such as a sandwich maker at a deli or an ice cream shop employee.

Who Is Required to Wear a Hair Restraint While Working?

As part of your food safety training, it is necessary to train staff on who is required to wear a hair restraint and when. All food handlers that have direct contact with food must wear hair restraints, such as hairnets, beard nets, and caps, that fully cover all exposed body hair. In addition to food, the hair restraints must effectively prevent contact with clean foodservice equipment, utensils, and food contact surfaces. Food handlers that must wear hair restraints include:

  • Chefs
  • Cooks
  • Dishwashers
  • Food equipment operators

A food handler is not required to wear a hair covering while on a break. Foodservice employees that do not have direct contact with food and only serve beverages and packaged foods to patrons do not have to wear hair restraints. Employees that do not need hair restraints include:

  • Counter staff
  • Bartenders
  • Servers
  • Bussers
  • Hosts

Food Safety Hair Rules

We have listed some food safety tips below that you should keep in mind when it comes to using hair restraints in your work.

Restaurant Equipment
  • Hair restraints must effectively prevent hair from coming into contact with food, clean foodservice equipment, food contact surfaces, utensils, and linens.
  • In addition to hair restraints, food handlers employees with long hair should tie their hair back.
  • Stock extra hair nets, beard coverings, or hats in case an employee needs to wear a new one during their shift.
  • Always dispose of single-use hair restraints after use and regularly launder chef hats and other fabric hair restraints.
  • Put hair restraints on before entering the kitchen to reduce the risk of cross-contamination. Refrain from fixing hair while inside the kitchen.
  • Always wash your hands after touching your hair.
The information provided on this website does not, and is not intended to, constitute legal advice. Please refer to our Content Policy for more details.

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