California Repeals Rubber Glove Law For Restaurant, Bar Workers

Image courtesy of (Renee Rendler-Kaplan)

Earlier this year, a new California state law banned restaurant workers from touching food with their bare hands and required that bartenders and cooks wear rubber gloves. But following a backlash from the public and the foodservice industry, the state legislature has voted to repeal the ban, going back to rules that simply ask workers to minimize the touching of customers’ food.

The idea behind the ban was to prevent the possible spread of germs from employees’ bare hands to the food on the plates, but as many people have pointed out, there’s nothing preventing the germs on the gloves from getting onto the food.

Think about it. If a customer gets sick because a careless and ill-trained chef thoughtlessly coughs into his hand and then goes back to slicing a tomato, it doesn’t matter very much if the coughed-into hand was bare or gloved. Whatever he coughed up is on the hand that then touched the tomato.

Additionally, a report from the Centers for Disease Control found that the wearing of rubber gloves leads some workers to be more careless about their hygiene. If someone’s bare skin gets crud on it, the natural reaction is to wash up. But working under the protection of latex might give some foodservice workers the false impression that their hands are clean when they aren’t.

Beyond that, there is the waste, cost, and environmental issues involved with the use and discarding of millions of additional gloves.

Oh — and there’s something oddly creepy about a bartender putting on rubber gloves just to garnish your gin and tonic with a lime wedge.

The restaurant industry, and many outside of the business, contend that that the best way to prevent restaurants from spreading pathogens is to be strict about hand-washing, kitchen sanitation and food storage. The foodservice world often moves very quickly and deals in large volumes; all it takes is one person in the kitchen to forget to wash his hands after using the bathroom to put people at risk.

Restaurants in California had a six-month grace period before they were required to make employees wear the gloves. The repeal action is coming just at the end of that grace period, so a number of eateries will never have had to deal with the nuisance.

[via Eater]

Want more consumer news? Visit our parent organization, Consumer Reports, for the latest on scams, recalls, and other consumer issues.