Foodservice Equipment Reports

Gloves Off In California? Maybe

California’s months-old law mandating that all foodservice workers wear gloves continues to be debated rather than put into action.

The Senate Health Committee held a hearing June 11 on AB 2130, which proposes to repeal the no-bare-hand-contact law enacted Jan. 1. The California Restaurant Association testified in support of the repeal legislation, which was approved by a vote of 9-0.

The law that AB 2130 seeks to overturn mandated that food professionals, including sushi chefs and bartenders, wear gloves in the kitchen, but operators in the state quickly determined that the law’s one-size-fits-all definition, as well as its implementation in such a diversely structured industry, presented huge operational challenges. A few months ago, the CRA succeeded in convincing the health inspector community to allow for a six-month soft rollout, ensuring no hard enforcement before July 1.

The new bill, AB 2130, seeks to reset the discussion surrounding the issue. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration adopted a similar provision in 1993; 41 other states have some sort of ban on bare-hand contact with ready-to-eat-foods.

Should the repeal effort be a success, state law will revert to language in the retail food code as it existed before Jan. 1, 2014, and require food employees to minimize, not prohibit, bare-hand contact with ready-to-eat foods.

AB 2130 is on the fast track, labeled as “urgency” legislation, and has received overwhelming votes of support at each legislative hurdle. It next will go before the Senate Appropriations Committee for consideration.

Currently, only eight states do not prohibit bare-hand contact with ready-to-eat foods in their food codes: Louisiana, Montana, Nebraska, Oregon, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas and Wyoming. The FDA adopted the provision in 1993.