New health regulations require gloves for handling prepared food

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. - The next time you go to a restaurant, or a fast food establishment , you may notice food service workers wearing disposable gloves.

That's because a new law that went into effect on Jan. 1 requires no bare hand contact with ready-to-eat foods.

California Retail Food Code will prohibit bare hand contact with ready-to-eat foods. The new requirement will make the use of gloves or utensils mandatory whenever ready-to-eat foods are handled.

The new law will have a soft rollout for enforcement, allowing more time for health department outreach and operator compliance.

Restaurants who do not comply will receive a warning at first then will be subject to violations.

Food service inspectors will check if employees are complying with the new law during their regular inspection of the establishment.

However, customers who notice employees not wearing gloves can file a complaint with the Department of Public Health.

The National Advisory Committee for Microbiological Criteria for Foods has identified three interventions that are effective in preventing the transmission of food-borne viruses and bacteria in food facilities:

Except when washing fruits and vegetables, food employees shall not contact exposed, ready-to-eat food with their bare hands and shall use suitable utensils such as deli tissue, spatulas, tongs, single-use gloves, or dispensing equipment.

A ready-to-eat is food is in a form that is edible without requiring additional preparation to be safe to eat. These foods include, but are not limited to:

  • any food that will not be thoroughly cooked or reheated  before it is served
  • any food item that has already been cooked
  • prepared fresh fruits and vegetables served raw or cooked
  • salads and salad ingredients
  • fruit or vegetables for mixed drinks
  • garnishes, such as lettuce, parsley, lemon wedges, pickles
  • cold meats and sandwiches
  • raw sushi fish and sushi rice
  • bread, toast, rolls, baked goods

Food employees can handle ready-to-eat foods by using any of the following utensils: tongs, forks, spoons, bakery or deli wraps, wax paper, scoops, spatulas, dispensing equipment or single-use disposable gloves.

Gloves may be used to handle ready-to-eat foods. However, gloves must be changed often. One pair of gloves may only be used for one task, used for no other purpose and must be discarded when damaged or soiled, when interruptions in food handling occur or when changing from one type of food to another. Gloves also must be changed every time hands are washed.

Print this article Back to Top