No Bare Hand Contact Battle Heads to North Carolina

Recently we watched as Oregon restaurant chefs were successful in convincing state officials to opt out of the “no bare hand contact with ready to eat foods” rule from the 2009 FDA Food Code. They cited increased waste from extensive glove use and a disconnection in the food handling process if they aren’t able to directly touch food items. Now North Carolina is in the same position.

Downtown Charlotte, North Carolina

North Carolina has adopted the 2009 Food Code. This means that on September 1 chefs will no longer be able to handle food with bare hands. Just like Oregon, chefs are upset about it. One restaurant owner, Spero Poulos, actually said that he can’t tell when mushrooms are bad unless he can feel them. That’s a new one. No doubt the North Carolina restaurant industry will look hard at what the Oregon restaurant owners did to be successful in their campaign to ban glove use rather than bare hand contact.

There is definitely a renewed effort by the restaurant industry to go away from glove use when handling food nationwide. Oregon was the first win and North Carolina is just another battle over this controversial regulation. If the North Carolina restaurant industry is successful, then we might see a snowball effect with more jurisdictions taking a closer look at this regulation.

I don’t think there is definitive evidence that glove use really prevents outbreaks. The theory makes sense, but it really hasn’t been studied effectively. For now, Oregon has allowed bare hands on food, but it only takes one outbreak caused by a sick employee with dirty bare hands on food to get the rule changed back the other way. Unfortunately, it takes personal injury and lucrative lawsuits by foodborne illness attorneys to change food safety policy.

Do you think restaurant workers should follow the No Bare Hand Contact Rule when preparing your food? Tell us what you think!

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Originally published 8.1.12

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