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Gloves Off: Restaurants Calling For End To Controversial California Law

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Nick Janes Nick Janes
Nick Janes joined KOVR/KMAX in December 2008 as a reporter. Nick...
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SACRAMENTO (CBS13) — The gloves are coming off in the battle to repeal a controversial law requiring chefs and bartenders to wear latex gloves when handling food or drinks.

In the restaurant business you have to move fast to keep churning those dishes out. And chefs say that’s the problem: Wearing gloves isn’t making the food safer, but it’s slowing them down and costing them business.

Inside any restaurant kitchen, efficiency isn’t optional. It’s an essential ingredient.

Except these days chefs spend less time focusing on food, and instead spending precious moments putting on pair after pair of latex gloves.

“It’s a little ridiculous almost what they’re asking us to do,” said Cafe Bernardo GM Rebecca Patterson.

Legislators are now joining restaurants and bars in the push to take California’s glove law off the menu.

The chair of the Assembly Health Committee will announce a new emergency bill on Monday to roll it back.

The requirement for chefs to wear gloves when handling all ready-to-eat food is a culinary complication.

“It’s not wearing gloves that’s the issue,” Patterson said. “It’s constantly having to stop what you’re doing to change the gloves.”

Bartenders are supposed to put on a fresh pair after preparing each drink.

“I don’t know if you’ve ever been to a bar on a Friday night, but if you’ve waited 20 minutes for a drink, expect to wait a lot more than that,” she said.

Sous chefs like Elijah Melchor complain the gloves can actually be dangerous.

“I’ve seen people’s gloves get melted to their hands working in hot environments on a grill or a saute range,” he said.

The new law was aimed at making food saver, but restaurants complain the unintended consequences far outweigh the benefits: making your meal take longer, and discouraging cooks from washing their hands.

Supporters of the law say it help prevent foodborne illness, and point out that other states already have similar rules in place.

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