27 January 2014

Should bartenders be required to wear gloves?

As reported on NPR's The Salt:
The rule applies to bartenders, who are now supposed to wear gloves to put limes in the mojitos and cherries in the Manhattans — even to scoop ice into a glass...

California Assemblyman Richard Pan, a Democrat who heads the committee that introduced the glove rule, says the law is not that onerous.

For starters, Pan says the law was written after conversations between lawmakers, health officials and some of the establishments that would have to abide by the rule...

Pan says regulators are still figuring out how they'll enforce the law. For the first six months, no one will be punished for not wearing gloves. They'll just get warnings.
More at the link.  Not discussed there is that some studies have shown scooped ice can harbor fecal coliforms, as do lemons and limes.

15 comments:

  1. Those lemons are never washed in the first place, and then they're sliced, and sit in a (probably) unwashed bowl all night long. No thanks.

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    1. http://www.pccc.edu/uploads/Xu/1x/Xu1xPvHvoXeYex8Gf1Uh0Q/JEH_Dec_07_with_Copyright.pdf

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  2. Sounds to me like a rule in search of a problem. The number of illnesses I have heard of that were linked back to a bartender's hands: 0.

    Long ago, I took a college microbiology class, and it impressed on me one lesson that lives with me today: germs are literally everywhere and nothing you can do will eliminate them all, or even your exposure to them. Of course we should be reasonably clean in our food prep, and of course we should address actual issues when they are found, but given the tiny magnitude of food safety issues in the US, this seems like a massive overreaction from a germophobic public, just like anti-germ wipes for grocery cart handles.

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  3. Who knows what's lurking on the gloves? I've watched food-handlers in various situations wearing the same gloves while they do their thing with the food and handle the cash and scratch their... well, whatever.

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  4. Wearing gloves is useless unless you work hygienically. Which you can do with bare hands as well.

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  5. Hmm.. I suspect the acidity in the lime would kill germs? I wonder if they actually thought about what they were mandating... (There have been a LOT of really stupid laws proposed this round in Sacramento.. the plastic bag ban for all shops, one requiring surfers to wear life jackets, etc...)

    And (in a small dig at the totally Democratic Majority government in California).. wouldn't it be easier just to mandate that all alcoholic drinks which require mixing, should have sufficient alcoholic content to be sterile?

    That's 80 proof by the way for flash sterilization. You can sterilize stuff with as low as 40 proof, but it has to sit in the glass a bit to work.. So add alcohol, swirl, let sit for a minute, then add ice and mixer.. Just prohibit wine and beer, unless served in bottles... (*Tongue firmly in cheek* )

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  6. I think the bigger problem is why so many people want everything to be "sterile." It's not necessary, the antibacterial substances leach into the environment, and the failure to expose people to bacteria may contribute to increasing rates of allergies. Germophobia is a counterproductive fear.

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    1. Last I heard our bodies contain more bacteria than "human" cells (by count, not by volume). This obsession with safety will not end well.

      No such law seems onerous to the petty thug who proposes it, probably because most of the laws they pass don't affect them directly. Nor do they ever stop to consider the entire corpus of lilliputian laws already dragging down the market.

      No single raindrop ever believes that it is responsible for the flood.

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    2. I was interested enough to go look up the origins of this. Snopes traces this back to a 2008 email and the original Dec 2007 study which may be read at http://www.thefreelibrary.com/Microbial+flora+on+restaurant+beverage+lemon+slices.(FEATURES)(Author...-a0172839589

      The author of the study found that in 76 lemon wedges covertly sampled in restaurants, about 70% produced some type of microbial growth from the flesh or rind, including 25 different microorganisms.

      However, the study didn't demonstrate restaurant patrons (or bar patrons) are at high risk from this. They did not determine the origins of the microbial contaminants, which could have come from numerous sources including the air. The paper did not cite any occurrences of anyone getting sick from this contamination. And I don't think they did a relative culture count either -- comparing microbial activity from plate swabs to the lemon wedges, for example.

      So.. why pass the bill? Legislating a specific solution without even knowing if there is a danger or what the best solution is, seems a bit silly. (It might be better just to mandate that all fruit and cutting utensils should be washed before being used in a bar....)

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  7. I don't see how this helps anything either. Unless the bartender is changing their gloves after every drink, the gloves are going to come into contact with the same number of things as bare hands would.

    And it's probably completely unfeasible to change gloves after every drink at most establishments without doubling or tripling your bar staff to maintain the same level of service.

    Good luck getting your bartender to work at half their pay, or good luck with the massive price hikes.

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  8. anyone who's ever seen a gloved food worker scratch their nose or rearrange their hair before returning to food prep is nto impressed my glove rules.

    i am more impressed by good handwashing.

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  9. This will simply increase latex allergies.

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  10. I used to work as an optician and saw/handled much nastier things every day than a bartender does. I cleaned and adjusted people's glasses, changed the nosepads on their glasses( or not, as the case may be). I touched people's faces, behind their ears, their glasses that in some cases had been worn for decades with no cleaning that I didn't give them. So I say bring on the bartender - I'll take his or her germs anyday. Wash your hands and if you are uncomfortable ask your bartender to wash theirs - odds are your drink will disinfect you anyway. And buy a drink for your optician if you can:)

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  11. Replies
    1. That's the most sensible comment so far (at least in terms of ice cubes). That's what people in our neighborhood do at parties.

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