A Change.org petition started circulating last week amongst the bartender community against a new law requiring bartender to wear plastic gloves when they handle mint sprigs, citrus twists, and other "ready-to-eat" foods. The petition asks State Representative and Committee on Health Chairman Richard Pan to exempt bartenders from the controversial new law, which went into effect Jan. 1 and is ostensibly to promote hygiene amongst food handlers.
In the culinary community, bartenders and sushi chefs have been the most vocal about opposing AB 1252, which requires them to wear disposable rubber gloves when they are handling raw food items. The bartenders' petition has currently amassed more than 8,000 of its 10,000 required signatures.
Bartending is a visual experience, the petition argues, one that would be broken up with rubber gloves. Moreover:
By forcing them to wear disposable gloves, we will be creating a mountain of waste, and potentially fostering more germ transfer because wearers of gloves are less likely to change them after making drinks and handling money--activities that would normally prompt a hand washing among the un-gloved.
Forcing food handlers to use rubber gloves will also create a tremendous amount of waste, and there are more than a few conspiracy-minded petition signers who wonder if the bill was underwritten by a plastic glove company. (And sure, if you follow the money, the group who clearly benefits the most is the glove manufacturers.)
But most signers -- and most of the people I've talked to about the bill -- simply say that requiring food service workers to wear rubber gloves won't make things any more hygienic (in fact, could make things worse, since bartenders won't wash their hands as much), and will generate far more waste in the process.
So, if you feel strongly, sign the petition. Iso Rabins at ForageSF is also working on a few initiatives to protest the glove law -- check out his blog post on the subject, and drop him a line if you want to get involved.