Are You Using Gloves?

Gloves have been a debatable subject in the kitchen of many restaurants. Jamie Oliver proclaimed on his Food Revolution show that clean hands would be as effective as gloved hands in the kitchen, and in many high-end restaurants, there’s no doubt that food may be tweaked or touched by ungloved hands (sometimes, even the chef or crew taking a bite to ensure quality).

California has decided to enforce the use of gloves when it comes to ready-to-eat foods, Eater reports. This is an addendum to the California Retail Food Code that began on January 1st. This rule demands that chefs do not touch food that aren’t going to be reheated or thoroughly cooked before going out to the customer, but can use utensils or gloved hands. Beyond food production, this also applies to plating, touching garnishes, and otherwise adjusting previously-cooked food. This adjustment.

For the first six months of this rule, it will be treated with “kid gloves” in a way; restaurants that do not follow this code will be faced with a warnings, not violations, during this period, as many restaurants might not even be aware of the changes yet, and would not be made aware until their first inspection since. Restaurants may actually apply for an exemption, and while exception’s may be unclear at the moment,

it seems to be at the DOH’s discretion — but exempt restaurants must “not serv[e] a highly susceptible population.” Restaurants will have to apply for exemption with a written health plan and prove that employees are properly trained in hand-washing and preventing cross-contamination. Similarly, the new rule explains that gloves must also be changed often to prevent cross-contamination and hands must still be regularly washed.

Critiques of the plan include everything from wearing gloves being considered “dangerous”, can increase production time in the kitchen, and cause more damage to the environment, alongside not completely promoting a clean and hygienic kitchen.

The rule stands at the moment, though, and if you haven’t been excepted, you need to make sure you have a steady supply of gloves in your restaurant, if it operates in California. While you may find out that your staff can all wear small gloves or requires extra-large, it would be best to have a variety of gloves for the times when you have new employees, guests in the back room, or even if an inspector needs a new pair. You’ll want a set of powder-free latex gloves that are disposable, as any time you touch one type of food (such as raw chicken), you’ll need to change your gloves before you move on to another type of food (the pasta you might be placing cooked chicken on, for example).

To expedite the glove-changing, a glove-dispenser mounted on your wall will make it easy to grab, pull, apply, and eventually dispose of.

The rule, though, may not be as easily dismissed.