A new addition to the California Retail Food Code bans restaurant workers from handling ready-to-eat food with bare hands. This includes sushi chefs, deli workers, or anyone preparing food that will not be cooked or reheated.
Instead, workers are now required to wear gloves or use utensils. Local health departments are responsible for enforcing the new law, which went into effect at the start of this year. However, because many local health department have not done adequate outreach on the issue, the law will have a soft roll out for the first six months of 2014.
Establishments found in violation of the law will receive a warning.
There is an opportunity for restaurants to apply for an exception to the rule, as long as they're not serving a "highly susceptible population," and obtain approval from a local health department.
The application for approval includes identification of foods touched by bare hands, documentation of employee training in proper hand washing, prevention of cross-contamination, a written health plan and documentation that employees use added measures to prevent contamination.
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Will this reduce food contamination and the spread of disease? How will chefs respond to the new law, especially those who handle foods constantly?
Professor Michael Roberts, Executive Director of the UCLA Law Resnick Program on Food Law and Policy
Raymond Graham, Assistant Manager of Dog Haus