California One Step Closer To Repealing Food Safety Glove Law

The new California law that requires food workers to wear gloves, stirring controversy among outraged chefs and bartenders, is another step closer to being repealed. The state Assembly's Health Committee, which proposed the bill that Gov. Jerry Brown signed into law, voted unanimously to repeal that section of the Health and Safety Code.

“A vast number of our local restaurants and bars raised serious concerns with this prohibition after the passage of this new law,” Assemblyman Richard Pan (D., Sacramento) at the committee hearing in Sacramento on Tuesday.

According to the law that went into effect on January 1, cooks and bartenders must wear disposable gloves or use scoops, tongs or other utensils when handling "ready-to-eat" food such as fresh fruit and vegetables, bread, deli meats — anything that won't be cooked or reheated before it goes out to customers

In Los Angeles, county health officials earlier this year said that they would not start strictly enforcing the new glove law until 2015 and would issue warnings during a grace period. (Health officials in other parts of California were planning to give restaurants six months to comply with the new rule before dispensing violations.)

Angelo Bellomo, director of environmental health for the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health, also said exemptions would be rare.

During the committee meeting on Tuesday, Pan cited reports of inconsistent implementation of exemptions, the costs of buying and disposing of thousands of gloves, and concerns about gloves offering a false sense of security and raising the risk of cross-contamination.

The bill to repeal the glove provision would return previous language to the food safety code that says employees should “minimize” bare-handed contact with food. The bill will next go to a floor vote.

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