On January 1, a new California law requiring workers who handle food that's ready-to-eat to wear gloves at all times went into effect, drawing the ire of many industry types. Now, the law has also extended its reach into another, less obvious space: the bar. According to the Los Angeles Times, bartenders will be required by the new law to wear gloves when touching citrus, herbs, ice, garnishes, and other components that go into drinks, as those components aren't cooked. "Technically speaking, these rules do apply to bars," Angelica Pappas, a spokeswoman for the California Restaurant Association, told the LAT. "It's been a common question we've heard ... so there may be more information to come on this in guidance documents from the health inspectors."
The new rules are sure to provoke outrage from bartenders, as chefs have argued that gloves are environmentally unfriendly, slow things down in the kitchen, and don't necessarily promote improved hygiene for workers. "Chefs think, for the most part, that the law is not only silly, but it makes their work harder and is arguably less sanitary, as a cook is less likely to wash gloved hands, especially during a busy service," Michael Ruhlman wrote this week in a piece lambasting the new law. Add to this that bartenders are constantly handling money and using POS systems (unlike chefs), and the fact of the matter is that gloves will have to be removed and replaced many times over the course of a given night. Latex dust in drinks or other reactions to the gloves could also be a potential concern for those with latex allergies. California is currently in a soft-enforcement period with the law in its first six months, and won't be penalizing those who eschew gloves, but will write up the need for their use in health-inspection reports.