It has been brought to my attention after my last Health Inspection at my deli, that there is a new mandate submitted by the State of California Health Department.
This mandate is requiring every single food establishment to wear gloves at all times.
At first glance one would think, of course a food handler should be wearing gloves while handling food, but looking deeper into the reality this is wrong for two reasons.
First reason, false sense of security. I worked as a nurse specializing in cardiology.
We were mandated to wear gloves back in the ‘80s and ‘90s when Hepatitis B and AIDS became very prevalent in our society and the knowledge of how the AIDS viruses was transmitted was unclear.
It was found that there became an increase of cross contamination of bacteria/viruses with nurses and health care professionals going room to room without changing gloves.
Some nurses were washing their gloves so not use so many of them.
The gloves were porous leaving some bacteria behind.
This perception that the patient was being protected was nothing but a false sense of security, when in reality, just the protection of the health care worker was being provided.
If the procedure of using the gloves correctly was followed, then of course cross contamination would not occur and patient safety was ensured.
Proper procedure and protocol must be followed which is the key to ensure the patients safety.
I had a customer tell me of a situation very close to the scenario just described.
She told me she and her friend visited a hamburger establishment in San Diego where the cashier was wearing gloves.
He rang up the order, took their money for their order, then continued on getting their drinks and assembling their order not changing his gloves after using the cash register and handling the money. She was so appalled she canceled the order.
Her comment to me was, I had no idea how long he had been wearing those gloves or where his gloves had been. If proper procedure and protocol are not followed, again, the customer/patient, will not be protected.
I have personally spoken with many food service employees who will readily admit that it is often times very difficult to impossible to follow this protocol of constantly changing gloves.
One employee told me that they were suppose to wash their hands before putting on the gloves.
She said it was a joke since it is nearly impossible to put your semi-dry hand in a glove, then once in, since your hand is still a bit damp, it causes your hand to sweat. This would result in the hand washing step to be eliminated.
Second reason, excessive rubber and latex in the landfills. There are currently many cities in the state of California that are no longer using plastic bags.
The concern, and rightfully so, is due to the enormous amount of non recyclable plastic filling up our landfills finding their way into our oceans.
Think how much plastic, latex and rubber will be taking the place of the plastic bags in the landfills and finding their way into the ocean should this mandate be fully implemented.
These gloves are not recyclable. There are already procedures and protocols built into the food handlers code with regards as to when gloves have to be worn. Some of the obvious reasons are, if a worker is wearing a band aid, or, if the food establishment allows it, if a worker is wearing finger nail polish, or if the worker has a cut on their hands.
My question is, why not spend all this time, money and effort reinforcing prudent and proper hand washing techniques that has proven to help minimize/eliminate the transfer of bacterial/viral infections?
Just imagine with all the restaurants, food courts, food kiosks, food trucks and all the other types of food vendors changing gloves every time a new order is up seven days a week multiplied by an estimated 1.35 million documented food service workers calculates to millions of gloves per day all going into the landfills Please contact your local City Council, Supervisor, Congress or Senator to stop this harmful mandate before it is fully implemented.
Corinne Hackbart is owner of the Encinitas Chevron.