California mandates gloves for all food handling

Chefs “hate” the idea of using gloves or tongs on everything, says the L.A. Times, and the epic volume of plastic disposables that will have to be run through daily will make a bad joke out of the bag bans popular in the state, but the legislature was unswayed:

Gov. Jerry Brown signed legislation that made changes to the California Retail Food Code in an effort to curtail foodborne illnesses, and those changes include a law that says “food employees shall not contact exposed, ready-to-eat food with their bare hands.”

That means cooks must wear single-use gloves or use utensils when handling food such as sushi, bread, fresh fruit and vegetables and any cooked components of dishes that will be plated for customers.

Some opinions from Twitter:

P.S. Cookery writer Michael Ruhlman has more to say here (“at any busy restaurant, my experience has been that the cooks’ hands are the cleanest in the place. You’re more likely to pick up germs from the waiter’s hand that sets your plate before you — but you don’t hear the legislators clamoring for this.”)


  • Think of the children and all of those terribly unsanitary food handling practices at home. Think of the children using their ungloved (eek!) hands to eat potato chips and carrot sticks. Think of the uncovered flesh when babies breast feed. Terrible, terrible. Thank goodness the California legislature can extend the present law to cover practices in the home.

    By the way, enough time has passed since passing Proposition 65 that it should be possible to determine with statistical rigor whether the requirements in the law have resulted in a safer California. We know the law was good for the makers of signs.

  • And, what reasonable accommodations will have to be made for people who are allergic to latex? This will likely start a new round of CA-ADA litigation by people claiming that they are unsure if they are allergic to latex and have never eaten at a particular restaurant, but, because they might be, the restaurant should pay them because it follows CA law and requires food-handlers to wear gloves, that might be made of latex.


    Been this way for as long as I can remember, doesn’t seem to be a problem here. Not sure why it would be a problem there.

  • The New York hand-contact reference is at 14-1.80. I’ve also heard by email from a reader in Vermont who says there is a similar rule in that state although it is “often ignored.” I hope the reporting gets into the question of whether the hand-contact rules in other states are in some respects less extreme than California’s, are often ignored, or some combination of the two.

  • You’re more likely to pick up germs from the waiter’s hand that sets your plate before you — but you don’t hear the legislators clamoring for this.

    Don’t give those idiots any ideas!

  • Note that this means you have to have storage space for as many pairs of gloves as you might use in your entire day.

    So food-truck employees will now have to cover the floor of their trucks with boxes of gloves, the way armored crew in the Vietnam War used to do with boxes of bullets. And if a regulator decides that’s still not enough gloves for the volume of business he figures they’ll do, well, so sorry but there goes your food truck.

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  • That’s awful. Gloves create cross contamination!!!