Do you feel a sense of relief when the guy behind the counter pulls on a pair of food gloves before making your sandwich?
Instead you should perhaps be coiling in fear. Not just ineffective, food gloves can be downright dangerous!
A recent series of studies published in the Journal of Food Protection say the warm, moist environment inside the gloves (ew, I know) actually can encourage bacteria growth, then when a glove gets a small tear from a fingernail or ring, that bacteria can travel to your food.
Ready to step away from that sandwich yet?
The longer the gloves are worn, the more susceptible they become to tears. Researchers recommend they not be worn for longer than two hours.
Even if they don't rip, they can still be a source of contamination, especially when moving between foods (e.g. from raw meat to vegetables).
Researchers conclude that good hand washing and drying are the best ways to keep food safe -- a LOT of washing.
"Washing should be performed before handling clothing from a high-risk area, changing into clothing for work in a high-risk area, entering a food handling area, and handling ready-to-eat food and after using a toilet, handling raw food, handling food waste, carrying out cleaning duties, touching non-food contact surfaces (e.g., machines, power switches, buttons and cell phones), blowing noses, and touching body parts."
So basically all the time ... which leads to the most pressing questions then: Would you ask a restaurant worker to takeoff the gloves and wash his hands before preparing your food?
Is that in your rights as a customer? Would you be too embarrassed to ask or would you rather eat and take your chances?
Or is it ridiculous to be so worried about each and every possible exposure to bacteria?
I can't say I'd be ballsy enough to do it, though if I saw someone making my food do something obviously offensive before preparing my food -- like cough into their hands -- I probably would. ... or I'd just leave.
Would you ask a restaurant worker to wash his or her hands before preparing your food?
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