I hate gloves. I hated wearing them when I worked in restaurants, and I hate seeing them when I eat out now. I know, I


Hands On

My beef with glove use gets some attention.

I hate gloves. I hated wearing them when I worked in restaurants, and I hate seeing them when I eat out now. I know, I know, they're supposed to protect me. But I don't buy it. 

Wearing a glove to prepare food is not unlike wearing a condom, from what I hear: usually, what's on the inside can't get out, but you can't always feel what's on the outside so well, either. Buy a pair and try cooking with them for an evening; you'll quickly realize that the raw fish slime you might so easily recognize as nasty on your bare hands seems less offensive on the glove. It's not hard to forget what you touched last and switch from raw chicken to salad dressing without a thorough wash, even if you've been "trained."

An article in today's New York Times takes a closer look at whether using gloves during food preparation actually makes us, the eaters, any safer. Apparently someone found a latex glove in their meal on Monday, raising concerns that they can actually be just as dangerous as the germs they're supposed to prevent. Specifically, the article reminds us that although gloves may prevent us from getting the line cook's cold, they don't prevent cross-contamination.

The Washington State Department of Health currently mandates that food workers have "no bare hand contact" with ready-to-eat food, meaning that in some cases, workers may not wear gloves but may handle food with paper or tongs. Fine. When I Googled, I found a comparison between the national food code and good ol' Washington's, which revealed that our state doesn't require workers to change gloves between individual tasks, like the FDA code does. But just now a nice lady from the Office of Environmental Health and Safety, the office in charge of food safety, told me a glove change is necessary when workers contaminate the gloves in any way. So now I'm just confused, which doesn't make me feel great about how clearly the glove message is getting to the guy making my sandwich.

Plus, according to the article, chemicals in vinyl gloves, which are often used instead of latex gloves due to allergy concerns, may cause "testicular damage in infants and young men." Sweet. 

Personally, I think the gloves should come off. What do you think?




comments powered by Disqus