California Legislature Waves Goodbye to Recently Enacted Restaurant Glove Law

Chefs In GlovesWhen it comes to California chefs, cooks and restaurants, there was no great love for the glove law that recently became law, and state legislators pushed for a repeal — which just passed through state Senate.

Earlier this year, there was little opposition from government for a law that required gloves for people handling food that went directly to diners, and it was quickly written into law — only to have the food service industry deliver major push-back.Consequently, a repeal bill passed through state Senate this past Thursday with a decisive 32-0 vote.

Opposition to the law was varied, but for many businesses, it was an issue of high cost with little payoff. One San Francisco cafe owner, for example, pointed out that all his staff handled were bagels, yet he would have to go through 50,000 gloves a year in order to make sure they were all gloved correctly. The ban also applied to bars, where bartenders often use their bare hands to prepare cocktail drinks.

“Having to change gloves constantly slows down service, and for a busy bar, time is money. Yet nobody outside of the corporate bar and restaurant community knew anything about it,” said Joshua Miller, a bartender in Alameda.

Even with the glove law booted, food handlers will still be required to maintain minimal contact with ready-to-eat food, and will have to keep their hands clean in accordance to current standards. There are also many restaurants, like the Subway sandwich chain, which will continue to require gloved food handling regardless of legislation.

“Everybody’s goal is protecting consumers from any and all food-borne illnesses,” said Angie Pappas, spokeswoman for the California Restaurant Association, which was one of the main organizations behind the repeal. “But it’s a matter of finding a way to protect diners that’s flexible, realistic and enforceable.”

California’s original decision didn’t come as much of a surprise given the danger and cost of food poisoning. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 48 million people contract food poisoning every year — often from restaurants as a result of hand-to-food contact. Food safety experts say that awareness is half the battle in combating the prevalence of food poisoning — many people handling food simply don’t wash their hands often or thoroughly enough.

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