Recently, a friend served as dishwasher for a local camp. She was told no tank tops. I couldn't find anything [in the regulations] pertaining to dishwashers and dress code. Everything I find is pertaining to cooks. She wasn't working with food, just washing pots, pans, utensils, containers from salad bar & drink pitchers. Do the regulations still apply?
—Dishwasher; Rushville, Ill.
Yes. Having started my career as a summer camp dishwasher, I couldn’t be more sympathetic to people not only working in a hot kitchen with little or no air conditioning, but also doing it over a steaming dish machine. I understand the tank top temptation.
While it may seem that workers who do not regularly handle food should be exempt from safety and sanitation regulations that apply to food handlers like prep and line cooks, the same standards should and do apply to those in food preparation areas across the kitchen.
As often happens in this column, be sure you are addressing the problem and not the symptom. While a tank top may seem like an appealing solution to a hot steamy dish area, a better solution would be to think through the ventilation to address the core problem while keeping all staff compliant with dress code and the operation food safe.
More on summer heat and uniforms here.