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Aug 18, 2014 02:48 PM

Unsanitary behavior by restaurant employees

Although this happened yesterday, and it's too late to do anything about it, I'd love to get Chowhounders' opinions on what to do if it happens again:

I was in the bathroom of a local restaurant yesterday and witnessed a food preparer using the stall (still w plastic gloves on from the kitchen), then not washing her hands, then blowing her nose, then leaving the bathroom. Yuk! It is a VERY busy brunch place. What would you have done?

(Also, recently at a local bakery and before the counterperson handed me my baguette, he wiped his nose with his hand.)

I'm sure these things happen often, but I don't want to witness them!


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  1. Hopefully, she then discarded the gloves and donned new ones.
    Even allowing for that, however, I'd tell the manager. Appearances are important even if this wasn't going to be a food safety risk.

    1. For the first offense, I think speaking with the owner or manager would be appropriate.
      The proper way to sanitize the hands is to remove the gloves and wash. The fact that the sink was passed by and the employee left with gloves still on is awful.
      Remove gloves, wash, reglove. The washing part can not be skipped in lieu of just changing into another pair of gloves.

      1. Absolutely tell the manager. My wife often used to complain about one of the women that ran the Nutri-life shake counter at her gym. Several times she saw the woman go directly from using the bathroom to back behind the snack counter making protein shakes without washing her hands, so she told the manager. After enough people reported her and she was warned several times, she was fired.
        Some people just don't get it, or don't want to.

        9 Replies
        1. re: buckytom

          Yuck, what is there not to get, right?!
          How do people get to adulthood with such horrible hygiene?

          1. re: monavano

            Our immune systems are stronger.
            That said, I'd never compromise the immune system of others with these poor habits.

            1. re: iheartcooking

              Stronger how? Stronger than what? Whom?
              We're talking about the risk of e coli. Anyone can get sick. Young, old and everything in between.

              1. re: monavano

                But some people have weaker immune systems so are a risk more than others. Equally your gut flora does adapt to give you a better tolerance of certain things. Think about when you travel and eat local food, you get sick but the locals don't. They are tolerant of the local bugs your system needs to adapt.

                  1. re: monavano

                    It can, and it can kill some people more easily than others.

                    1. re: PhilD

                      Yes, which is why universally, all restaurant employees should wash hand, and wash correctly!
                      It's all in the technique.

                      1. re: monavano

                        I read an article once about how a vigorous washing with lots of water was as good as using soap. The point is to remove and rinse away the bad things.

                        1. re: monavano

                          I don't think anybody's saying they shouldn't wash their hands, they're saying that their immune systems are stronger because it's had to fight arguably more pathogens than a chronic handwasher's.

          2. I would have said something to the manager. There's a strange misconception that gloves are used to protect the wearer in food service. Nope, they're used to protect the customer! I especially hate when someone wearing gloves handles money and then goes back to the food. I always tell the person I'd like them to change their gloves.

            12 Replies
            1. re: Hobbert

              True story- maaaaaaaany years ago, I was at the dentist's office and the assistant who was going to stick her fingers in my fricking mouth came into the room, gloves already, and proceeded to wash her gloved hands before she worked on me.
              Being in healthcare, I was like wtf lady????????!!!!!!!

              1. re: monavano

                Wow. I'm an EMT and it's amazing what some coworkers do with gloves on. Just think it through! Don't work on your patient with gloves on and then grab the radio, use your pen, etc without doffing them.

              2. re: Hobbert

                I read recently that some food safety professionals feel that gloves are less sanitary than well washed hands.

                The reason is that people feel that wearing gloves abdicates them from adopting the safe food handling procedures. So gloves are not changed as frequently as a server would wash their hands i.e. handling money, taking out the garbage etc.

                1. re: PhilD

                  I tend to agree.
                  Gloves make people perceive risk differently and they then end up taking way more risk thus negating any benefits of the gloves to begin with.

                  Same thing is seen with backcountry skiers and snowboarders. A lot of people end up dying because they mistakenly think they can go buy some gear and it will mitigate risks. Instead they just take way bigger risks and get caught in avvys because they didn't know basic snow science (or food handling in terms of the glove issue).

                  1. re: PhilD

                    They're less sanitary if the wearer is a twit. If they understand basic food safety (or universal precautions in my example), it's fine. It's silly to decide gloves are useless if you just don't understand them. I do agree that gloves are no cleaner or less clean than intact skin. You've got to change gloves as often as you wash your hands, so as long as your hands are clean, I don't care. But, if I can see they're not, yep, I speak up.

                    1. re: Hobbert

                      Thats the problem. It has nothing to do with the intelligence of the wearer. Psychologically they create an illusion of safety and that results in poorer hygiene standards than hand washing for many operatives.

                      1. re: PhilD

                        Has anyone who says "people who wear gloves are less sanitary because they don't change gloves" ever seen any actual STUDIES that say this is the case? Otherwise, it's just a guess; you can't say what people will do unless you actually study what they do.

                        Why is the presumption that Idiot A who doesn't change gloves after doing something unsanitary would otherwise go to the trouble of washing their ungloved hands after doing the same thing?

                        1. re: Scott_R

                          I have seen the studies but need to do some research to find them again - they were carried out by public health authorities. I believe it found that hand washing was simple and had high rates of compliance - maybe because people don't like dirty hands. Gloves tended to give people a false expectation of hygiene so they they didn't think they would cause any issues.

                          1. re: PhilD

                            I don't see the logic there. You've to be a complete idiot to think it's sanitary to use the toilet while wearing gloves and still think you're hygienic after.

                            1. re: Scott_R

                              I only jokingly said that about toilets. The relative hygiene issue between gloves and non-gloves is that people wash as they transition between functions with gloves they tend to believe the gloves make it safe. The logic pretty strong, although counter intuitive, its about people over relying on a safety measure and forgetting common sense precautions.

                          2. re: Scott_R

                            Scott - you could start with the NZ guidelines or read the second detailed paper (LARSON,E. 1989. Handwashing: It's essential - even when you use gloves), also lots of references to UK studies on the web but I couldn't track them down.



                      2. re: PhilD

                        I'm inclined to agree. People get a false sense of cleanliness when using gloves and think about their hands being clean, but not the fact that they just took the trash out to the dumpster and went to the bathroom before coming back in without washing up, because their hands are still clean because of the gloves, while most people would be more mentally aware of potential contamination at if they were barehanded.

                    2. I wouldn't go back and I might write to the proprietor, or not, depending on how much time I wanted to spend on it. I might also make a complaint to the health department.

                      I would have refused to accept the baguette and demanded that the server wash his hands before giving me another, or simply walked out. That's disgusting.