Saturday, January 18, 2014

Chefs hate new law requiring them to wear gloves: 'It's terrible'

From the LA Times:
"The band-aid of a blanket glove regulation is potentially dangerous," says Neal Fraser, chef-owner of BLD restaurant and Fritzi Dog. "People get into the tendency to not wash their hands. And environmentally it's very unfriendly. It's funny that at the same time L.A. institutes a plastic bag ban, there's this."
This is a really good point.  The thousands and thousands of restaurants will generate an untold number of plastic wastes.  And many communities banned plastic grocery bags to curb the waste.

Additionally, since you aren't required to wear the gloves during all steps of food preparation, there is a good chance the workers will forget to wash their hands in the process.  The end result is that this law may do nothing to curb food borne illnesses.

But…it gets worse.  Reason.com covers the law in more detail and it's just horrifying.

If it appears to you that the exception pretty much swallows the rule, then you're absolutely right. How many bartenders are zesting lemons for custom cocktails destined for "preschool age children" at, say, a kidney dialysis center, right?

So if the law isn't worth the paper it's printed on, then why are chefs and bartenders up in arms? It's the confusion it causes. And the paperwork required to avoid it.

In order to qualify for a "highly susceptible population" exemption, the law states that restaurants and bars must "obtain prior approval from the regulatory authority;" must maintain "[w]ritten procedures" on site "that include a list of the specific ready-to-eat foods that are touched by bare hands," and must present "diagrams and other information[.]" And that's not even the half of it. (The multi-step compliance language runs more than 400 words.)

And then there's the fact that "it's not clear how the Los Angeles County health department will enforce the new regulations or how it would allot exemptions," reports theLos Angeles Times.

"In pursuit of the mirage of perfect safety, this rule sacrifices craft, proportion and common sense," says Olson. "Even though laws like this often go ignored in practice, they open up every ungloved bartender and sushi chef to selective enforcement or an inspector's shakedown."

This…is a nightmare.

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