California Repeals Rubber Glove Law For Restaurant, Bar Workers

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]

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  1. petepuma03 says:

    This is excellent. I have always thought the gloves were silly for the reasons cited in this article– germs will live just as well on latex as they do skin. The only time I think gloves make sense is if you have an open wound.

  2. Pacer says:

    A friend visiting from Japan was horrified when she saw restaurant workers wearing latex gloves because she said they are so unsanitary. I thought about it and then had to agree with her. Workers will do anything with gloves on without changing them.

  3. Lenne says:

    I disagree with two above comments. It would put me at better ease to watch the worker first wash his/her hands and then put on a pair of gloves. I once ate at a Thunder Cloud Subs a few years ago with a friend (I had never eaten there before). It was at the suggestion of a friend because he said that their sandwiches were ‘better’ than Subway’s. Anyway, I saw this girl in the front making sandwiches, for my friend and she was wearing gloves. There was a queue, so this big burly man with a nasty apron came out from the back to help her out. He asked me what I wanted, I said ‘wheat’ and he grabbed the buns with his nasty bare hands. I was completely disgusted. Being used to getting MY sandwiches from Subway which require all their employees to wash their hands and then put on new gloves for very order, I was flabbergasted and I was ready to tell the cashier ‘never mind’ and ‘I don’t want it’. How do I know that he washed his hands in the back? He could have been scratching his arse and picking his nose for all I know. The lady told me that Tunder clouds does not require their employees to wear gloves except when handling certain kinds of meat, and she had opened a new package of meat for my friend, and she opted to not remove them while she was making his sandwich. She offered to make me a new sandwich while wearing gloves, and I accepted. I also gave her a 5USD tip, which was more than my entire order, stating that I knew that she didn’t have to do it, but was very VERY appreciative that she did.
    Anything can get nasty. Not changing your gloves can be nasty. BUT requiring employees to WASH their hands with HOT soap and WATER and THEN put on gloves to prepare food in FRONT of customers, gives customers a better piece of mind about those who prepare their food. Subway is especially fastidious about this, especially if there is only one person that handles the the food prep and the cashier. Money is disgusting. They remove the gloves before handing money, then put on new ones before they make your meal, and they always wash their hands at a sink that is viewable to the public whenever they come from the back room or outside.

    I have had food poisoning before because someone didn’t properly handle food, which is exactly why 98% of the time I prepare my own dishes, because only I can be absolutely certain of the cleanliness and the ingredients when I do this myself.

    Needless to say, I have never eaten at a Thunder Clouds since then. Not wearing gloves, or hairnets or any other protective gear is a big no no, and anyone who thinks otherwise are, well…I guess it takes something bad to happen to someone (food poisoning) before they understand the need for such items. Haven’t you ever seen that Seinfeld Episode about the Pizza maker? That episode was spot on when it comes to the dangers of unsanitary individuals, and I have seen enough men walk out of a public restroom without washing their hands to know that this is a common occurrence.


  4. DyinMyelin says:

    Well I teach art and don’t work for the health department, and I’m a big environmentalist. However this just screams to me “thank you” spelled out in e. coli like a high school marching band. The difference between a human hand and a gloved hand is that there are lots of places for germs to hide. You probably won’t use the toilet with gloves on. And, based on what people tell me who have worked in the food industry, it’s often not air conditioned in the back, meaning there is sweat in your food.

  5. offenhauser says:

    This is a good move. The only person protected by gloves is the person wearing them. I stopped going to my local Burger King when I saw the manager wearing gloves and going from handling food, to making change, to wiping tables and back to handling food. All while wearing the same gloves.