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CNN Report: AFS food safety expert comments on Oregon glove requirement

CNN Report: AFS food safety expert comments on Oregon glove requirement

Last year, when Oregon Health Authority officials announced they would adopt the 2009 FDA Retail Food Code, restaurateurs suddenly faced a piece of legislation that would prohibit foodservice workers to touch prepared food with their bare hands. The gloves came off.

The no-bare-hands rule was originally supposed to go into effect on July 1, but Oregon public health officials delayed the decision because of public debate that these new safety rules were not actually safe. The rule would have prohibited food handlers from contacting “exposed, ready-to-eat food” with their bare hands. Instead, any contact would have to be made with “suitable utensils,” including deli tissue, spatulas, tongs and single-use gloves.

Wednesday, regulators of Oregon’s Foodborne Illness Prevention Program announced that “…at this time, the ‘No Bare Hand Contact’ section of new food safety rules will not be adopted.” Among the complaints raised by food experts: gloves give foodservice handlers a false sense of cleanliness, create more plastic waste (especially since plastic bags are banned in Oregon) and add a supplementary cost for restaurateurs.

“While the regulation is being put into place to prevent norovirus contamination, the bottom line is that gloves alone will not prevent the problem without being used in combination with hand washing,” says Mindy Brashears, a professor of food safety at Texas Tech University. Norovirus is what laymen more commonly refer to as food poisoning.

“We would not want an employee to simply put on a pair of gloves after using the restroom; we also need them to wash their hands. Covering up contaminated hands is not the answer, removing the contamination is important,” she says.

In addition to dismissing the bare-hand rule, the program’s website stated it will, in the next few months, allow restaurateurs, chefs, government inspectors and interested consumers to form a workgroup and have a hand in future food safety decisions.

Sarah LeTrent
CNN Eatocracy Associate Editor

CONTACT: Mindy Brashears, Professor, Department of Animal and Food Sciences, Texas Tech University at (806) 742-2805 ext. 235 or mindy.brashears@ttu.edu

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