In a preliminary victory for California’s restaurant and bar workers, AssemblymanRichard Pan could soon overturn a provision in the state’s highly controversial new "glove law" that bans bare hand contact with ready-to-eat foods.
At a press conference in Sacramento Monday morning, Pan said he would propose a repeal of the law, which essentially altered the state’s health code from “minimizing” bare hand contact to “prohibiting” bare hand contact with food.
The rule has led to pushback over the change, which would force food professionals like sushi chefs and bartenders to use gloves in the kitchen. They argued it was cumbersome, unnecessary and bad for the environment.
As a result, Pan is introducing emergency legislation AB 2130, or the Retail Food Safety law, to change the code back to what it was. A spokesperson for Pan's office said his office is "optimistic" that the measure will pass.
“It’s not about whether there are gloves or not, it should be about whether the local business and the health inspector have worked together to create a safe environment for the customer,” said Pan upon announcing the new rule. “Sacramento is famous for being the Farm-to-Fork Capitol, and we continue to grow our entertainment and restaurant industry. I am committed to making sure this is a great city for our businesses to thrive in.”
A number of industry representatives and business owners, some of whom started petitions that garnered thousands of signatures, are thankful to have Pan's ear.
"The current glove law created unintended consequences and calls for new gloves for each and every transaction," said Aaron Gregory Smith, executive director of the United States Bartenders Guild and general manager at San Francisco's 15 Romolo. "For my establishment alone, that is 175 pairs of gloves per shift, and it can add up pretty quickly.”
The California Restaurant Association said it “applauds Pan’s efforts” to heed the concerns of the restaurant and bar industry.
“Given the challenges presented by, essentially, mandating plastic gloves for all who handle food in the restaurant and culinary arts we support reassessing the prohibition of bare-hand contact,” said CRA president and CEO Jot Condie.
“Safety is our industry’s number one priority,” he added. “And California boasts one of the highest-trained restaurant workforce in the nation with food safety — including proper hand washing techniques — mandated for anyone handling, preparing or serving food.”