Sorry, Restaurant Staff Wearing Gloves Won’t Protect You From Illness

08.02.17 2 years ago 4 Comments


I’ve been writing the first paragraph of this post for half an hour now, and it’s not because I have writer’s block (although I checked Google just to make sure). It’s because many of the beliefs that I’ve held sacred for years have been shattered*. Friends, I come to you today to deliver some terrible news: Gloves in restaurants are actually bad.

If you are surprised by this, know that I am, too. I have always respected the sanctity of the glove. Once, when I saw a cook at Denny’s use the bathroom and not wash his hands (we were there at the same time, I was not just casually creeping) I spoke to the manager, who told me that he’d send the guy back but that it was totally fine. “They all wear gloves in the kitchen,” he had said. “We take food safety very seriously here.” I nodded along and proceeded to eat my 3am dinner, but I was wrong to have done so.

Why? Because it turns out that gloves are actually very good at spreading pathogens. Take Chipotle, for example. It turns out that the company requires all employees wear gloves while working. And that means that the employee (or employees) who contributed to the recent norovirus outbreak must have been wearing gloves while they were preparing food. What happened? Foodbeast spoke to Timothy Fisher, a Fresh Foods Department Manager and Culinary Institute of America (CIA) graduate, and discovered that gloves don’t really cover a whole lotta sins.

From FoodBeast:

“People wearing gloves touch all sorts of things besides food and continue to use the gloves. Technically they should change gloves after they’ve touched anything that isn’t food related, and most health standards say you should also wash your hands before putting on new gloves. But that takes so much time!”

And that time is something employees don’t have, especially when lines are out the door and people will complain about the wait even if it’s for their own good. That’s why you’ll sometimes see a gloved employee at a fast casual restaurant make your food, ring you out, and then go back to making sandwiches while wearing the same gloves. All that’s a problem, and that’s before you factor in the fact that gloves rip, tear, and puncture, leading to the spread of all sorts of bacteria.

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