SACRAMENTO (KCBS) – Chefs, cooks and bartenders in California are breathing a sigh of relief, as the state Senate has sent a bill to Governor Jerry Brown that would repeal a law that workers at bars and restaurants be forced to handle food with gloves and utensils, rather than their bare hands.
Assembly Bill 2130 passed on Thursday with a 32-0 vote in the state Senate. It repeals AB1252, a law signed last year requiring restaurant employees to use gloves or utensils to handle nonprepackaged food that is in a ready-to-eat form.
Food-safety experts have long recommended this type of measure to curb the spread of disease. But the measure caught many in the restaurant industry off-guard, as they argued it would create unnecessary waste of disposable gloves, and in some cases, like sushi chefs and bartenders, restrict their work.
“This bill replaces the new bare hand contact prohibition with the previous law, which requires bare hand contact to be minimized,” state Senator Kevin De Leon, D-Los Angeles told lawmakers on Thursday.
AB2130 was introduced by Democratic Assemblyman Richard Pan of Sacramento, to repeal the law he originally authored as part of an update to the state food code, and make it more flexible.
Golden Gate Restaurant Association Executive Director Gwyneth Borden supports the repeal, and said California already has strong food safety laws in place.
“We have food safety certification classes that we put on for our food handlers. We think that safety has to come first,” Borden said. “We feel that a lot of great procedures are already in place, and that applying gloves to the process did not help uphold those standards.”
Enforcement of the original law is scheduled to begin July 1, but the repeal could be signed by Governor Brown as early as this weekend. No word yet on whether he plans on signing the new bill.