SACRAMENTO – Local restaurant and bar owners on Monday joined Assemblymember Richard Pan (D-Sacramento), chair of the Assembly Health Committee, and Sacramento City Councilmember Steve Hansen in announcing emergency legislation to provide relief to food facilities from the “glove law,” enacted Jan. 1, that prohibits bare-hand contact with ready-to-eat food.
The legislation announced at the press conference, AB 2130, will repeal the section of the Retail Food Code that prohibits bare-hand contact with food and replaces it with the law as it existed in 2013.
“It’s not about whether there are gloves or not, it should be about whether the local business and the health inspector have worked together to create a safe environment for the customer,” said Pan, who is also a doctor, upon announcing he is authoring AB 2130. “Sacramento is famous for being the Farm-to-Fork Capitol, and we continue to grow our entertainment and restaurant industry. I am committed to making sure this is a great city for our businesses to thrive in.”
“Unfortunately, last year a law was passed that was supposed to give flexibility to local businesses and the Health Department to build a safe atmosphere for patrons, but instead the law is being interpreted to require new pairs of gloves be worn during nearly every transaction in bars and restaurants like mine,” said Randy Paragary of the Paragary Restaurant Group, which operates nine food-retail establishments throughout the Sacramento region.
Bobby Coyote, president of the Sacramento Chapter of the California Restaurants Association and owner of Dos Coyotes Border Café, said, “The glove law currently provides a false sense of security because gloves are not a substitute for a clean restaurant operation.”
This issue has been the subject of a Change.org grassroots petition that was started by a bar expert from Alameda, Josh Miller. “We gathered over 11,000 signatures from people who have shared their stories about how the glove law has negatively impacted their bars and restaurants,” Miller said. “I am excited to work with Dr. Pan to bring those stories into the discussion and to the State Legislature.”
Aaron Gregory Smith, executive director of the United States Bartenders Guild and general manager/operating partner at 15 Romolo in San Francisco, stated, “The current glove law created unintended consequences and calls for new gloves for each and every transaction. For my establishment alone, that is 175 pairs of gloves per shift, and it can add up pretty quickly.”
Randall Selland of the Selland Group, which operates three restaurant locations in the Sacramento region, announced his support of the new legislation. “I want to thank Dr. Pan to bringing sanity to what is going on here. AB 2130 will bring a sense of reality and repeal the current glove law that is just not practical.”
The bill’s principal co-author, State Sen. Leland Yee (D-San Francisco), said, “Stakeholders throughout California have made it clear that while we must protect the public health, we must also respect the artistry of the chefs and mixologists that shape our state’s cuisine. This bill works to maintain that balance and ensure that California remains a culinary destination.”
Also in attendance in support of the bill were representatives from the American River College culinary arts community as well as Chris Jarosz of West Sacramento’s Broderick Roadhouse, Simon and Henry de Vere White of de Vere’s Irish Pub, and several other restaurateurs in the region.
The bill has been proposed to allow businesses to follow 2013 law and more fully discuss the question of bare-hand contact with ready-to-eat food. The previous law required employees to minimize such contact in addition to proper hand-washing techniques.
AB 2130 already has gained bipartisan support, including Assemblymembers Richard Bloom (D-Santa Monica), Brian Maeinschein (R-San Diego), and Bob Wieckowski (D-Fremont), all co-authors.
Pan is a father, small-business owner, former UC Davis educator and pediatrician who represents Sacramento, Elk Grove, Galt and Lodi in Assembly. He continues to practice medicine at WellSpace Health Oak Park Community Clinic, pursuing his passion for working with families to build healthier communities.