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Can employees of a food facility wear strong perfume?

Personal Hygiene

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#1 Joana Alexandre

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Posted 24 March 2020 - 01:44 PM



I would like to know if there is any regulation in the USA that I can use to refrain employees at a food facility to use perfume or other strong scents?


We have a few people in the production area and warehouse, where the scent is overpowering and if there is a regulation, that would help me deal with the situation.


Thank you in advance, 


#2 SQFconsultant



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Posted 24 March 2020 - 02:28 PM

I am not aware of a "regulation" but we include no perfume, scents, etc into the standard GMPs for employees.

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#3 The Food Scientist

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Posted 24 March 2020 - 02:50 PM

Some perfumes are so strong that they can stick to the food products and stay in for a while. So when the end user gets a hold of the product, they may smell the perfume. It's not really a good practice to have food handlers put perfume. 

Everything in food is science. The only subjective part is when you eat it. - Alton Brown.

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#4 Brendan Triplett

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Posted 24 March 2020 - 03:18 PM

I would frame it as a contamination risk.


SQF says this:


12.3.3 Clothing Clothing worn by staff shall be maintained, stored, laundered and worn so as not to present a

contamination risk to product. Clothing worn by staff engaged in handling food shall be maintained, stored, laundered and worn so as

not to present a contamination risk to products.


I put it in my HACCP as this as GMP:


Personal cleanliness and clothing (12.3.3)

Personal cleanliness should be maintained by bathing daily and using deodorant to control body odor.  Only mild perfumes or colognes may be worn that do not interfere with food aroma.  Hands should be kept free from perfume.  Clean clothing and steel-toed/composite shoes should be worn that are appropriate for the multi-temperature work environment.  All clothing and personal belongings should be stored away from food and equipment and must be maintained, stored, laundered and worn so as not to present a contamination risk to product (  All clothing and personal belongings, with specific attention for food handling personnel, should be stored away from food and equipment and must be maintained, stored, laundered and worn so as not to present a contamination risk to product (


Hope this helps. 



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#5 kfromNE


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Posted 24 March 2020 - 08:55 PM

You can claim employee health as a reason for not allowing strong scents as well. I know many people who will get headaches from strong scents  - myself being one of those.

#6 LostMyMind


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Posted 24 March 2020 - 09:06 PM

The actual regulation in the current GMPs is §117.10 (b)(9) (part of Subpart B - Personnel) which states:


"Taking any other necessary precautions to protect against allergen cross-contact and against contamination of food, food-contact surfaces, or food-packaging materials with microorganisms or foreign substances (including perspiration, hair, cosmetics, tobacco, chemicals, and medicines applied to the skin).
Bold emphasis is mine.
Based on the language "necessary", someone could potentially argue whether banning it is necessary, but IMO, I think it is warranted.
Not sure if you needed the actual reference, but just in case...
Good luck,



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Posted 24 March 2020 - 09:28 PM

In Australia the term "objectionable materials" includes odours not associated with the ingredient or food that you are processing, so you could go that angle -- that these staff members are introducing objectionable materials.


Probably not the best way to increase staff morale though!


Depending on the application I'd go the more subtle route, stating that as a part of the manufacturing process the staff involved are constantly assessing the product organoleptically and that the perfumes prevent an effective organoleptic assessment -- if something smelt "off" how would they know given all the signal disruption?

#8 Hoosiersmoker


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Posted 27 March 2020 - 02:16 PM

You can cover it 4 different ways:

1.   Perfumes are chemicals and there is a definite risk of "rub-off" if the scent is that strong therefore a potential contamination risk.

2.   It's a potential quality issue as unintended smells in your product raise a question of food safety as well as the aesthetics of your products.

3.   Many perfumes contain known allergens. Some people are very sensitive, even allergic to strong scents and it could make them sick therefore you have a responsibility to eliminate the source of the potential allergen

4.  (My favorite) If strong body odors are covered in your company policy, add strong perfume scents to the list and also cover it in the anti-harassment policy. If the person's perfume is offensive to other employees you tell them to refrain.


Better yet, all of the above indicate you might consider banning the wearing of perfumes and colognes.

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