Re “Glove law steams chefs,” Feb. 2
Your article about complaints from chefs over California’s new law requiring restaurant workers to use gloves for handling ready-to-eat food misses an important point. Gloves seem like a good idea at first, but Mother Nature is more complicated than that.
Latex causes allergies, vinyl can release toxins and may be a carcinogen, other types often tear and can end up in food, and most degrade if they come into contact with alcohol. The known and unknown long-term health risks of gloves need to be weighed against their benefits.
For medical use, gloves make a lot of sense. But never before has so much food been required to come in contact with synthetic materials prior to eating; no one can predict the health consequences of such a massive intervention.
Mother Nature has a way of making us regret decisions that do not respect her complexity.
Terence Sanger, MD
For more than 20 years, I’ve eaten out for nearly every meal. I’ve had my share of food-borne illness.
Every time I’ve researched the source, I’ve never concluded it was the result of dirty hands. It’s almost always temperature violations (i.e., the meat was undercooked.) If there was cross-contamination, I would assume a dirty cutting board, tongs or a knife was the culprit.
Just because a person is wearing gloves does not guarantee cleanliness. When was the last time he or she changed those gloves? And what did those gloves touch before they touched my food?
Instead, we should simply wash our hands more.
The article makes a few points about why the law mandating gloves might prove ineffective, for example, by encouraging unsafe practices such as handling money with the same gloves as food.
A few years ago I read of a study showing that if the food preparer’s hands weren’t properly clean to start with, the gloves became contaminated while putting them on. I’m in favor of strong regulation to protect people, but California’s new glove law does the opposite.