One third of kitchen workers do not wash their hands after using the lavatory – and more than half do not bother before they handle food, according to a survey published by the Food Standards Agency.
The poll of 1,000 workers and managers in restaurants, hotels, take-aways and pubs revealed a wide ignorance of food handling rules.
Less than two thirds of employees had a certificate in basic food hygiene, yet just 3 per cent of bosses understood the importance of training staff.
The survey of catering is part of a five-year £20m campaign by the agency to reduce the number of food poisoning cases by 20 per cent by 2006.
Last year, 5.5 million people said they became ill from something they ate, with two thirds blaming it on food made outside the home, the agency reported.
Although 64 per cent of those surveyed said they knew the importance of washing their hands, 39 per cent still neglected to do so after visiting the lavatory and 53 per cent admitted not cleaning their hands before preparing food. Among managers, 32 per cent said they thought good food hygiene was important but 64 per cent believed good food was the key to keeping customers.