SALEM - On July 1, the Oregon Health Authority€™s "No Bare Hand Contact" regulations were supposed to take effect, but backlash from the foodservice industry made officials change their mind, KTVQ reports. The requirement would have forced all foodservice workers to refrain from touching "exposed, ready-to-eat food" with bare hands, using "suitable utensils" such as single-use gloves, tongs, spatulas and deli tissue instead.
The rule is part of the 2009 FDA Retail Food Code that Oregon adopted last year. Last week, officials with the state€™s Foodborne Illness Prevention Program said "at this time, the 'No Bare Hand Contact' section of new food safety rules will not be adopted."
The restaurant industry applauded the decision, saying that gloves give foodservice workers a false sense of security, make more plastic waste and add to a restaurant€™s bottom line. "While the regulation is being put into place to prevent norovirus [food poisoning] contamination, the bottom line is that gloves alone will not prevent the problem without being used in combination with hand washing," said Mindy Brashears, a professor of food safety at Texas Tech University.
Executive chef Adam Sappington of The Country Cat Dinner House & Bar was happy with the reversal. "I got a little philosophical about the whole idea. [Gloves] take away one of the senses of cooking," he said. "It's more likely that [wearing gloves] you€™re going to wash your hands less, and moving from hot to cold, hot to cold in gloves."
The Foodborne Illness Prevention Program will start a workgroup formed of chefs, consumers, government inspectors and restaurateurs to discuss future food-safety regulations.