January 20 2014 – Robert Fiumara
So here’s a question - an exceptionally prepared meal touched by dirty hands or an ‘ok’ meal that is conducive to your health; which would you prefer? Whatever your answer is, know that diners, chefs and the public are all affected by the new law in California, which explicitly restricts chefs from having contact with ready-to-eat food without the use of gloves.
This law will be made effective in the next six months. Many chefs take the regulation to task as the excess gloves are bad for the environment. The principal question is, do gloves get in the way? What can Californians expect from the new regs?
According to Mary C. Fitzgerald of Safe & Sound food safety consultants, the newly- implemented regulation “is a good thing”, needed in a service industry where illness prevention is on everyone’s minds. While Fitzgerald is concerned about the overall health and well being of the public, there are some who do not share her sentiments.
Without using gloves in handling meals, deadly food-borne illnesses are commonly contracted. Among these illnesses are Listeria, an undetected illness, E. coli, Salmonella, Staph Bacteria, Hepatitis A and others. These illnesses are as a result of the improper preparation and handling of meals. At the same time, the connection with food is an important one for chefs – being able to touch and experience the food without something in the way is an intimate part of cooking.
There’s also the difficulty component – for many chefs, preparing meals such as sushi gets a little difficult with gloves in the way. The food is the product, so anything that could potentially create a situation where the product suffers is not one any chef wants to deal with. It’s certainly true that using gloves can pose a challenge when preparing some meals that require considerable amounts of care.
As far as the bacteria argument goes, gloves are known to contract their own bacterium. Gloves cause “cross-contamination” and they definitely do get dirty. While wearing gloves is a great way to alleviate food-borne illnesses, they do have a share in causing harm. While there are different views with regards to the usage of gloves in preparing meals, use of gloves is now an established regulation in California.
Simply plating the food? You’ll still need the gloves. Our California readers should be ready to implement these regulations ASAP.