HOME > Chowhound > General Topics >


Ungloved or gloved?

Because this happened to me in a restaurant I frequent in the Boston area, I'm posting my question here.

Does anyone know if it's a law that line cooks where plastic gloves in restaurants in Ma.?

First of all, this is a place that I really like and it's cafeteria style and it's an exceptionally clean restaurant. Impeccable really. But it's not a hospital setting, where I know that plastic gloves are required. However, with this kind of setting, you see your food being cooked. And you slide your tray and order, then slide a little more and they hand you your dish. So you can see everything that is going on. With that being said, I went with an acquaintance for breakfast this morning and with hardly anyone in the place there because we went really early, she asks the guys "you don't wear gloves when you handle food?" All he handled was the toast, he used a spatula to handle everything else. I was aghast, but said nothing and slid to pay for my order. I heard the gentleman say to her that "he doesn't wear gloves, because he doesn't have to" and that he serves over 5 thousand customers and no one has every asked him that question before. This guy is in his late 60's and is from Greece, and I could tell he was upset with her.

Was she right?

I am not trying to start an argument, nor do I want to get this guy in trouble if the law says he suppose to wear gloves. But, if my dc eats at a restaurant that she can't see into (which are many), would she see "no gloves".

As I said, I never think of this kind of thing. I believe that chefs clean their hands so often, that it's not really necessary. And whose to say that someone who did have gloves on, couldn't cross contaminate food anyway.

Also, I cook and entertain in my home a lot and never wear gloves. I never see chefs on TV ever wear gloves. Only in a hospital cafeteria have I ever witnessed people wearing them.

And if this post is in the wrong spot, I apologize.



  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. They are not required to wear gloves.

    1 Reply
    1. re: tartandfit

      Thank you. At least I can tell my dc that, if the subject comes up again.


    2. Yowsah. IMO this plastic glove thing is catering to American squeamishness without a scientific basis. People have been cooking without gloves since the discovery of fire. Food-born illnesses are almost always the result of contamination or poor temperature control, not (reasonably) clean hands. Find something real to worry about.

      4 Replies
      1. re: mwhitmore

        YESSSSS! the whole thing horrifies me really,while the disposable glove co. owners must have joined the Fortune 500 list of World's Top Billionaires by now. Recycle recycle recycle but then throw away umpteen pairs of disposabe gloves a day................

        1. re: opinionatedchef

          < throw away umpteen pairs of disposabe gloves a day................>

          With all due respect, do you really want people to recycle gloves and recyle syringes?

        2. re: mwhitmore

          Can you provide a reference for that claim? Foodborne illnesses in a food preparation setting are easily spread by a fecal-oral route, i.e. when the cook doesn't wash his/her hands after using the toilet.

          I'm not arguing in favor of plastic gloves, just thorough hand washing.

          1. re: Luther

            No argument, I did say reasonably clean, which certainly includes what you said.

        3. According to this site, handling ready-to-eat foods does require gloves but there is a work around to that if the establishment so desires.


          I take it your dc might not want to visit or eat at a sushi restaurant.

          1 Reply
          1. re: kobuta

            Ha..... I doubt she would even eat cooked fish. She doesn't like seafood, ethnic, etc. The only places we go together, is breakfast.

            Luckily, I don't dine with her too often. Usually breakfast meets both of our likes. :)


          2. I believe the issue is no bare-hand-to-food-contact. So if you are never, ever, going to touch food directly, you don't need gloves. Otherwise, gloves or tongs.

            1 Reply
            1. re: Scruffy The Cat

              I think this was her problem, he picked up her toast with his bare fingers. While I don't have an issue with it, others do I assume.

              A sort of quote from the late Julie Child goes like this: "if you see a beautifully plated dish in a restaurant, know that there have been hands all over it".....


            2. Gloves actually get nasty at least as fast as a human hand.

              4 Replies
              1. re: StriperGuy

                Worse! I've seen people do other things with gloved hands then continue on touching food, whereas they would have washed their hands thereafter if not wearing gloves.

                1. re: haiku.

                  YES this is my feeling exactly. When people do not have on gloves i often see them washing their hands or wiping them at least on a towel, etc.. Or at least i like to think they are washing them! I often see people with disposable gloves on handling money and other dirty things and then food and they never are washing their hands with the gloves on.. All the gloves are protecting are their hands!

                  1. Gloves are only required for ready to eat foods. So technically he should have worn them for handling toast.
                    However, I'll let you in on a secret and tell you that the only time you'd find cooks wearing gloves is when whatever is being handled is messy, and when the health department is around.

                    1. I do not believe gloves are required. I do believe however that most places/restaurants require employees to wear them but I also know from working in this business more food is handled without than with gloves. I also have to say I have watched gloved employees handle money then go right back to making sandwiches so to me the glove thing only means the employees hands stay cleaner not necessarily more sanitized to handle food.

                      1. Thank you all.

                        I told my friend that I understood her concern, but that I don't agree that it makes our food any safer (bacteria wise).

                        She said she had heard that "breakfast places", are not required to wear gloves. I never asked her source, because it's moot between us at this point. :)


                        1. Oregon just enacted a law requiring food service workers handling ready-to-eat food to wear gloves. I'm sure there's all sorts of science to back up their findings but that's only taking into account those who wear them properly (wash your hands- put on gloves - touch nothing other than food - touch something else - discard gloves - repeat).

                          We have been conditioned to wear gloves to protect our hands (from cold, waste, cleaning); wearing gloves to protect what we're touching from our hands is counter-intuitive. I see gloved food-service workers constantly handling money, on break holding a cell phone, even touching things in the kitchen that aren't food. You can't convince me that these people go back and wash their gloves or discard them.

                          When we touch something disgusting with our hands, our instinct is to wash them immediately - we can FEEL that there's something wrong on them. With gloves, there's not that tactile indication that you need to wash. With a few exceptions, I'm far more comfortable with non-gloved food service workers.