In a move that’s sure to please California bartenders and sushi chefs, the state’s Assembly Health Committee voted unanimously to overturn the infamous “glove law” that provoked the ire of the food industry and inspired a petition gathering 11,000 signatures.
On Tuesday, the committee voted in Assembly Bill 2130, which seeks to repeal a section of the Health and Safety code introduced this year that forbids food preparers and bartenders from touching ready-to-eat ingredients with their bare hands and requires them to use disposable gloves or utensils in effort to combat food contamination. Under the new legislation, food preparers will be asked to “minimize bare hand and arm contact with nonprepackaged food that is in a ready-to-eat form.”
The bill must be voted on by the entire Assembly before the repeal is finalized, but this first vote is a positive step forward for the food industry workers who felt the bare-hands ban was counterintuitive, wasteful and inhibitive of their work.
Bartenders, who are constantly handling both money and cocktail ingredients, say that the practice of regular hand-washing is cleaner and allows for better drinks.
"They are trying to get expressive oil into the flavor and smell of the cocktail, and you are lacing that with the smell of latex and powder," Aaron Smith, executive director of the U.S. Bartenders' Guild, told the Associated Press.
Assemblyman and Health Committee chair Richard Pan (D-Sacramento), who introduced the new bill, told KPCC that the original law “was not turning out the way that those of us who helped work on the legislation thought."
If the new bill passes in the senate, the revised health code will likely go into effect before July 1.