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Food Codes: Handling Sandwich Fixin's

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Please be INFORMED chowhounds: When EVER you see ANY1 preparing a sandwich or ANY ready-to-eat foods (cold cuts, vegatbles) it is ILLEGAL for the preparer to use bare hands to make your sub. They MUST use gloves or tongs to assemble the item. Even the 'prep' person who shreds the lettuce and slices the tomats should use gloves. There may be NO bare-handed contact with any ready to eat food item. If you are at all concerned when you see this (as I am) it is very important that you notify the establishment that their practices are unaccaptable and that you will make a formal complaint at local the Board of Health. I have seen this problem go unadressed in many communities since the rule changes kicked in last October. I always take a look at the goings-on behind the counter before I even order. Especially now with kids behind the counter, all bets are off. No gloves, no tongs, no business from this crispydude. (one place I 'busted' was bare-handing the lettuce. I said "you know you should use gloves or tongs". So they dumped the lettuce back into the bucket and started using some greasy tongs from the grill to do the job!!!! Ewwwww. Seeya!)

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  1. If they don't change gloves (i.e. making change, handling garbage, handling uncooked meats), does it really matter that they are wearing them in the first place?

    12 Replies
    1. re: AlanH

      The gloves are supposed to be for food prep only, not handling money, uncooked foods, garbage etc. At least thats the idea.

      1. re: 1crispydude

        I think AlanH's point on this one is that dirty people will be dirty regardless of whether they wear gloves or not. The ones who didn't wash their hands when prepping foods are the same ones who will wear the same gloves to make change and make a sandwich. I think it's a fair point.

        To be honest, I think the glove thing is over the top. If people followed the previous rules set forth by the Board of Health then sanitation wouldn't have been an issue anyway. I think this will end up being the same type of thing. Clean hands are safe.

        1. re: Jaylea

          No way. Hands don't stay clean. People scratch themselves, pick their nose, sneeze, etc. Gloves are much more sanitary and the Dept. of Food and Agriculture has several studies that prove it. Europe adopted the HACCP approach to food procurement several years before the US enacted changes and there was a dramatic drop in food-borne illness as a result. More to the point: When people were eating sandwiches at D'Angelos on the South Shore just two or so years ago, several dozen people got very ill from unsanitary food handling, namely from bare-hand contact with food. The reality is that you are much less likely to scratch yourself or pick your nose with a plastic glove on. Plastic gloves make even the dirtiest hands clean for handling food. Its just common sense for public health and not over the top at all. It works very well and it should be enforced. It is part of an entirely new approach to food handling that includes mandatory training of servers, prep cooks, chefs and managers. Don't be so skeptical!!!

          1. re: 1crispydude

            If you wash your hands properly - they ARE just as clean. You are supposed to wash your hands BEFORE you touch food. If you sneeze, cough, touch your hair, etc. then you need to wash your hands before touching food. The examples you gave are all from people not following proper hand-washing guidelines. And the people who didn't follow those properly won't follow the gloved policy guidlines properly either. That's all I was saying.

            1. re: Jaylea

              I agree with Jaylea. I think the original poster is just showing some kind of germ-phobic bare-hand paranoia. Clean hands are clean hands-- and are way cleaner than dirty gloves. The issue is sanitation in general, not gloves as some kind of miraculous germ destroyer, which they are not. I seriously doubt that a food preparer who doesn't care about sanitation in the first place is going to change his gloves every time he sneezes, and the suggestion that gloves will keep himself from "scratching himself" is nonesense.
              Another point is, do you think chefs and the like wear gloves in an upscale kitchen? Doubtful. I guarantee your waiter/waitress has touched your food barehanded to rearrange your plate a bit, if not then they DEFINITELY still touched your plate--probably right after taking someone else's dirty plate and silverware away. And how about that minimum wage busboy who touched your silverware barehanded?

              1. re: AlanH

                It ain't paranoia if its true. Like it or not, the implementation of HACCP food standards has increased public health through methodically decreasing the potential points-along-the-way that your food can be contaminated by other people. Raw foods or lunch meats are easily contaminated by bare hand contact. Its just a proven fact. Chefs at the stove are not making ready-to-eat foods like salads and subs.

                1. re: 1crispydude

                  Yeah, but chefs at the stove are handling much more dangerous substances, such as raw chicken and beef, from the perspective of contamination. In my experience with food handling, food sanitation, and restaurants (longtime GM of a popular, and extremely well run Boston restaurant chain), you are far more likely to get sick from cross contamination than any other type of poor food handling.

                  When unsanitary workers use gloves, they feel invincible, and will go from one task to another, figuring they are ok if they still have their "magic" gloves on. A good training program is far more important than using gloves.

                  I cannot imagine going into a clean, well lit, well run restaurant of any kind and reporting them to the Health Board for such a violation. Come on!

                  Also, contaminated by what, if a sandwich maker is dealing primarily with cooked ingredients, what contaminant is he/she spreading?

                  Finally, is this really chow?

                  1. re: Roejimmy

                    I'm with you... "magic" gloves are meaningless.

                    You can scratch yourself, pick your nose, sneeze, and still have gloves on. And once they are dirty, they stay dirty.

                    I suspect it is like the plastic cutting board which was originally billed as "more hygenic" and easier to clean than wood... in the end it turn out that bacteria can live longer deep in the cuts and gashes in on a plastic board then they can on a wood board which essentially self-sterilizes if exposed to the air.

                    A clean, well run kitchen is the only way to prevent food born illness. I also agree that cross contamination is the key concern.

            2. re: 1crispydude

              When I was in high school my best friend worked at KFC. I guarantee you, some of the things they did to the food, no gloves would protect you from the things these kids did to the food. To this day I will not eat at a KFC.

                1. re: AlanH

                  Same story, friend was working at Arby's. I have a vivid memory of a big hunk of roast bef slipping out of his hands and across the floor. He just picked it back up and put it into the walkin (not even rinsing it off). *shudder*

                  Let's face it, any place that is staffed primarily by high school kids is suspect.

                  1. re: AlanH

                    Yikes! What's really scary is that *I* had a friend in college who worked at KFC in San Fran and ALSO talked about the terrifying things "behind the scenes". Apparently it is a part of the culture! YUCK! I also do not eat at KFC aftre her stories.

          2. This reminds me of a hygiene horror I witnessed at the Ponderosa restaurant in Attleboro when I was about 12 (20 years ago). The grill guy was flipping my burger as I was standing behind the counter with my tray. I watched him take the tongs off the burger, STICK THEM DOWN THE BACK OF HIS PANTS TO SCRATCH HIS BUTT, and then flip the burger again. Needless to say, my mother grabbed me and we fled. Never went back to a Ponderosa since then. In the 20 ensuing years of avid dining out, I have never again witnessed anything nearly as gross as this.