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Bare Hands


paulraphael
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I probably seem paranoid, but it's just that I'm taking a food safety certification course and some of it is counterintuitive.

The Man says:

"May ready-to-eat foods be touched with bare hands if the hands are washed or a germicidal soap or hand sanitizer is used?

No. Although hand washing is effective in reducing contamination, many people forget to wash their hands or even fail to wash them properly. Germicidal soaps and hand sanitizers have not been proven effective in destroying viruses."

Is this just extreme caution in the low end food service industry? Does Thomas Keller actually wear gloves when he slices and plates meat for service?

Gloves always make me suspicious. I see the way people behind counters use them (as if they're magically, permanently sterilized). I suspect people are actually more vigilant about sanitation when they don't have surgical gloves on.

Meanwhile, my sense is that doctors and nurses wear gloves primarily to protect themselves. They protect the patients by washing their hands all the time.

Thoughts?

Notes from the underbelly

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I've seen research (can't recall where) that supports your assertion on dirty gloves: apparently, when people can feel "yuck" on their hands, they're more vigilant about washing. Gloves remove the sensation of dirty hands, leading to more germ-spread, as people will unwittingly touch all sorts of things with those gloves.

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My understanding is that the primary effect of forcing people to wear gloves is to protect against insufficient post-bathroom hand-washing. And it works quite well at this. A good example is the Hepatitis A outbreak in Onondaga County in the 1980s, where a county of around 500,000 was getting 40% of the Hep A cases in New York State (~19 millon people -- you do the math). They cracked down on enforcing the gloves policy and the outbreak went away. And Hepatitis A is spread by? Everyone? That's right: feces.

One would assume (hope?) that, in higher-end establishments, this is not an issue and therefore perhaps bare hands would be better.

Edited by slkinsey (log)

--

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We have medical people who can probably address this much better than I, but when doctors and nurses change gloves, it also helps deal with patient-to-patient contamination issues. Or if done properly, it's supposed to.

Given some of the extremely nasty infections some of my friends have received in the hospital lately, it's obviously not being done enough.

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the Hepatitis A outbreak in Onondaga County in the 1980s, where a county of around 500,000 was getting 40% of the Hep A cases in New York State . . . They cracked down on enforcing the gloves policy and the outbreak went away. 

And why all restaurant employees are not required to take the Hep A vaccine is just beyond me. Of course, I still want them to wash their hands properly, and I do think gloves should be mandatory. They are in Seattle - the food service permit class all food workers have to take here emphasizes over and over again, "No bare-hand contact with ready-to-eat food!" Of course, I see this rule being broken all the time. So since there is a vaccine, why not require it?

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Gloves would be great if restaurant workers followed the same procedure as medical personnel - a new pair of gloves every single time you take them off. Funny, but I've never seen any of my docs re-using gloves. Those gloves that are kept on by the person making your sandwich and taking your money - not too clean, in my book.

Mitch Weinstein aka "weinoo"

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In the community kitchen I prefer that people use bare, properly washed, hands for most operations. We have vinyl (surgical) gloves for the "icky" jobs like mixing pesto into meat, or handling used dishes. And I TOTALLY insist on changing gloves between different types of food.

Karen Dar Woon

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We have medical people who can probably address this much better than I, but when doctors and nurses change gloves, it also helps deal with patient-to-patient contamination issues.  Or if done properly, it's supposed to.

Given some of the extremely nasty infections some of my friends have received in the hospital lately, it's obviously not being done enough.

Obviously? No, I don't think so. There may be many other reasons why infections are spread in hospitals.

 ... Shel


 

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Our health department in Ontario doesn't require gloves, so it was quite a surprise when I taught a class in Buffalo and was told (afterwards) that there would have been trouble had the health department dropped by. Apparently NY state is one of the places requiring gloves.

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Our health department in Ontario doesn't require gloves, so it was quite a surprise when I taught a class in Buffalo and was told (afterwards) that there would have been trouble had the health department dropped by.  Apparently NY state is one of the places requiring gloves.

Although if the local bagel place is any indication, they don't care whether you use the same gloves to handle food and money, as long as you wear 'em. :angry:

(No, I won't get bagels from them anymore.)

MelissaH

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Although if the local bagel place is any indication, they don't care whether you use the same gloves to handle food and money, as long as you wear 'em. :angry:

(No, I won't get bagels from them anymore.)

MelissaH

This scene played out between two glove-wearing, prison-tatooed cooks at my old company cafeteria:

Cook 1: drops burger on the floor, picks it up, tosses it to Cook 2

Cook 2: receives pass, sends it into trash with a perfect hook shot. Then, with same pair of gloves, goes back to making my sandwich.

:)

Edited by paulraphael (log)

Notes from the underbelly

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