Chef Claims State Law Requiring Gloves For Food Handlers Will Negatively Affect His Work

LOS ANGELES (CBS13) – Ken Uechi has been making sushi for 8 years and considers himself an artist. But he says a new law is adding an unwanted layer to his work.

He now has to wear gloves. A change in California’s food safety code forbids him and other sushi chefs from using their bare hands.

“It’s about putting life into a piece of sushi, we want to be able feel the rice, control the texture, but with gloves, it’s kinda hard to,” said Uechi.

Beginning this month, food service employees in California must use disposable gloves, tongs, or other utensils when handling uncooked food. The code even applies to bartenders who put fruit or vegetables in cocktails.

“The gloves will minimize the potential for viruses or other germs on the employees’ hands from coming into contact with foods,” said Angelo Bellomo, Environmental Health Services Director, L.A. County Dept of Public Health.

Bellomo is in charge of enforcing the new regulations in Los Angeles, but he and other health officials in the state are giving employees at least 6 months to comply.

Sushi lover Bill Burrs says the change puts a bad taste in his mouth.

“I think it’s ridiculous. I’m paying a trained professional that needs to feel the rice that needs to touch the fish,” said Burrs.

Uechi says wearing gloves makes it harder to create sushi that won’t fall apart.

Reporter: You can actually tell the difference between sushi made by someone wearing gloves and someone not wearing gloves?

Uechi: If you’re a hardcore sushi eater, yes.

While Uechi opposes the new law, he says he is prepared to roll with it.

Restaurants and bars that don’t comply with the changes after the six-month grace period could be penalized during their health code inspections, which could leave them with a lower rating.


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