Remember six months ago or so when it looked like everyone from your friendly neighborhood barman to your favorite sushi chef was going to remind you more of a surgeon than someone providing hospitality? That's because on Jan. 1, a law went into effect requiring plastic gloves for all hospitality workers handling raw foods.
Well, now that law has been repealed. Why? Because of a massive backlash on the part of restaurant workers, owners — and just about everyone.
See also: No More Bare-Handed Food Handling in California. Even You, Sushi Chefs
Workers complained that changing gloves in the middle of a dinner rush was far more difficult than simply washing their hands. Owners complained that the cost of gloves was unfair. Environmentalists pointed out that it was ridiculous that, in the same year that we move to effectively ban plastic bags, we mandate a whole different form of plastic waste. We argued that there were far more pressing changes to food production and policy than mandating gloves. Petitions to repeal the law gathered more than 19,000 signatures.
Last week, the California legislature did a complete 180, repealing the law that went into effect only six months previously. That six-month mark is important: Since January, the health department has been handing out warnings rather than citations for cooks and bartenders going bare-handed. Yesterday, that would have changed to violations and possible fines.
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For many restaurants, such as fast food operations, the gloves will stay. Workers wore them before the law, and they'll still wear them. But for sushi chefs, bartenders and most California cooks, the plan for hygiene will revert to hand washing. Which is more effective, better for the environment — and far more visually appealing.