Food sanitation is an issue that makes many wary, as so much is predicated on personal habits or ideas about what is or is not a dealbreaker in the kitchen — glove use or lack thereof being one of the things that sets many people on edge when a restaurant’s cleanliness is being considered.
Oregon has recently scrapped a requirement that glove use be maintained for food service workers for a few reasons, highlighting the issue of whether glove use creates a false sense of security among those who prepare food as well as those who consume it in dining establishments.
In the US, it is a requirement that those who prepare food wear gloves to avoid contamination, and we have grown accustomed to not seeing those who are cutting tomatoes or tossing salad using bare hands to handle food being consumed by restaurant goers.
But in Oregon, where recently passed food safety regulations dropped the requirement, legislators say that hand washing is and should be the primary focus when working to avoid food-borne illness. Opponents of a glove requirement in Oregon argue that gloves not only provide a false sense of security (perhaps making hand washing feel less necessary to prep workers) but also that gloves cost a lot and generate plastic waste.
Texas food safety expert Mindy Brashears explains:
“While the regulation is being put into place to prevent norovirus contamination, the bottom line is that gloves alone will not prevent the problem without being used in combination with hand washing… We would not want an employee to simply put on a pair of gloves after using the restroom; we also need them to wash their hands. Covering up contaminated hands is not the answer, removing the contamination is important.”
A poll CNN appended to coverage on the Oregon food prep decision about gloves revealed a majority of readers do not mind gloveless prep, if food service workers adhere to hand washing guidelines.