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Food Prep

California chefs, bartenders may win back right to touch your food with their bare hands


California bartenders have been told they must wear gloves when making drinks from now on, thanks to the introduction of a new food safety law. (iStock)

It looks like California chefs, bartenders and deli workers might be able to take off those hated rubber gloves.

Gov. Jerry Brown was presented Thursday with AB2130 -- a "do-over" bill would repeal a law requiring those handling food that goes directly to diners wear gloves and mandating that they change those gloves with every new plate or fruit garnish on a drink.

The law took effect in January, but following a backlash from the public and the foodservice industry, the state legislature voted to repeal the ban.

"We're grateful the assemblyman was willing to roll (the bill) back, hit pause and restart the process from the beginning," Angie Pappas, a spokeswoman for the California Restaurant Association told the San Francisco Chronicle.  

Pappas says she’s confident that Brown will sign the bill.

If signed, service workers will go back to rules that ask workers to minimize the touching of customers’ food, even though 41 other states have a version of the legislation signed last year by Brown.

The idea behind the first law was to curtail foodborne illnesses.  The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that workers touching food provided the most common transmission pathway for food-originated norovirus outbreaks between 2001 and 2008, the most recent comprehensive review of data available.

Yet, industry workers content that the best way to prevent foodborne illnesses is to thoroughly wash hands and utensils, and  that wearing gloves doesn’t prevent cross contamination.

If Brown signs the bill, those bartenders who objected to putting on rubber gloves to create that perfect craft cocktail may have more time muddle.