Chefs Required to Wear Gloves Under New California Law

The new law went into effect on Jan. 1 and requires chefs working with ready-to-eat foods to wear gloves

By Andrew Lopez
|  Monday, Jan 13, 2014  |  Updated 1:02 PM PDT
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Chefs in California are required to wear disposable gloves when preparing ready-to-eat foods under changes in the California Retail Food Code.

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Restaurants workers in California aren’t allowed to handle ready-to-eat foods anymore, and it may make preparing meals such as deli meats and sushi a little harder.

Changes to the California Retail Food Code went into effect on Jan. 1 and requires chefs to wear single-use disposable gloves when working with prepared foods, unless a permit-holder has prior approval from a local enforcement agency.

It’s a change that likely isn’t on many restaurants’ radar, said Larry Bressler, a teacher at Le Cordon Bleu in Pasadena and general manager of the Chefs Center of California.

“I really do not feel that the vast majority of food service owners and employees are aware of the change in the law,” Bressler said.

For now, it doesn’t appear to be an issue as restaurants and food preparers are being given six months to implement the change.

Even with the extra time, Bressler said Californa sushi shops might have a difficult time to transitioning into the new code.

“This is going to be a huge change for sushi chefs,” Bressler said.

Bressler said the bare-handed method of rolling rice into perfect mounds won’t be the same for some sushi cooking veterans.

“It becomes that much more of a challenge, that much more of a hassle,” Bressler said. “They’re going to have a very negative reaction.”

The existing code requires employees to thoroughly wash their hands before preparing food or donning gloves to work with food. Bressler, who teaches a food safety and sanitation course, said the changes were made to protect consumers from eating foods that have been contaminated or handled improperly.

“Sometimes your hands are the best tool available, but you have to know how to use that tool safely,” Bressler said.

Though the change might be a big deal for some chefs, Bressler doesn’t expect it will change any diner’s experience.

“The only way that it will affect their experience is if they have a pissed off sushi chef,” Bressler said.

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