For chefs and local restaurateurs who've been up in arms, so to speak, since California's so-called glove law went into effect on Jan. 1 of this year, forcing food handlers to wear a new pair of plastic gloves each time they handle food, help may be on the way.
Today Dr. Richard Pan, chair of Assembly Health Committee (D-Sacramento), announced emergency legislation (AB 2130) that would repeal the section of the Retail Food Code prohibiting bare-hand contact with food. If their legislation passes, the current law – which has been interpreted to affect everyone from sushi chefs to bartenders – would be replaced with the law as it existed in 2013.
AB2130 was introduced last week, but officially announced today. If the bill gets a two-thirds vote, it would go into effect as soon as the governor signs it, according to Robert Abelon, Pan's spokesman.
“It's not about whether there are gloves or not, it should be about whether the local business and the health inspector have worked together to create a safe environment for the customer,” said Dr. Pan at today's press conference, according to a press release.
The 2014 law prohibits bare-hand contact with ready-to-eat food unless the health department has given an exemption. It prompted an outcry from local chefs, food workers and bartenders, all of whom are now required to wear gloves doing everything from plating food to making cocktails.
Several Sacramento restaurateurs were on-hand at the press conference to lend support to the law's repeal. The executive director of the United States Bartenders Guild, Aaron Gregory Smith, who is also general manager/operating partner at San Francisco's 15 Romolo, noted that by requiring a new pair of gloves for “each and every transaction,” the law had big consequences. “For my establishment alone, that is 175 pairs of gloves per shift, and it can add up pretty quickly,” he said, according to the press release.
AB 2130 already has gained significant support, including that of principal co-author Senator Leland Yee (D-San Francisco), and co-authors Richard Bloom (D-Santa Monica), Brian Maeinschein (R-San Diego), and Bob Wieckowski (D-Fremont).