Hit & Run

California Sushi Chefs Can No Longer Use Bare Hands


Nor can any other handler of food in the great state of California.

Sushi chefs who take their art and craft seriously aren't pleased, reports L.A. Weekly:


A great sushi chef in another state once complained to me about a health code violation he'd received for making sushi without gloves. "Making sushi with gloves is like making love with a condom," he said. "It just isn't the same." Well, as of Jan. 1, California's law has changed so that there can no longer be any bare-handed contact with foods that won't be cooked. That means baked goods, salads - and yes, even sushi….

It's hard to imagine the sushi masters at our finest Japanese restaurants adhering to this rule. So much of sushi preparation is about feel and tactile sense memory. 

There is a way for restaurants to seek an exemption for specific situations, but it's unlikely that the exemption covers "thousands of years of tradition." 

If you are washing fruits and vegetables, you are in the clear. However, if you are a bartender adding an olive to a martini or some celery to a bloody mary in the state of California, if you don't don gloves or use tongs, you are now breaking the law, according to this report from the California Restaurant Association:

Foodservice workers must wear disposable gloves or use utensils to handle ready-to-eat foods…..A ready-to-eat is food is in a form that is edible without requiring additional preparation to be safe to eat. These foods include, but are not limited to:

  • any food that will not be thoroughly cooked or reheated (165F) before it is served
  • any food item that has already been cooked
  • prepared fresh fruits and vegetables served raw or cooked
  • salads and salad ingredients
  • fruit or vegetables for mixed drinks
  • garnishes, such as lettuce, parsley, lemon wedges, pickles
  • cold meats and sandwiches
  • raw sushi fish and sushi rice
  • bread, toast, rolls, baked goods.

For what it's worth, reports the Centers for Disease Control in 2012:

  • The overall incidence of infection with six key foodborne pathogens (Campylobacter, Listeria,Salmonella, STEC O157, Vibrio, and Yersinia) was 22% lower [than a three-year control period in late '90s].

NEXT: Hundreds of Pages of NJ Bridge Scandal Documents Released

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. California Sushi Chefs Can No Longer Use Bare Hands

    Well I would hope they aren't making sushi rolls out of bare hands.

    "Making sushi with gloves is like making love with a condom," he said. "It just isn't the same."

    And so sushi chefs and porn stars find common ground.

    But seriously, fuck the California food Nazis. Someone should start an underground food club featuring glove-lessly made sushi rolls, foie gras, and raw milk.

    1. Yeah...and I can't wait until we start seeing the SWAT Team raids cracking down on this abhorrent and antisocial behavior!

  2. Those fucking bastards, Keep your hands off the hands of my sushi chef!

  3. This will most likely be ignored. At my local joint the other nite none of the chefs had fucking gloves on.

    1. I'm sure the state agency in charge of enforcement will send in undercover agents to bust chefs that aren't following protocol. What's the point of making a regulation if you aren't going to squeeze money out of it and arbitrarily ruin people's businesses?

      1. I'm getting a job with that agency. My job will be to eat sushi at restaurants twice daily, five days a week. I can live with that.

        1. But teh mercury!!!

          1. Your fugu sashimi, sir!

    2. It's the health code in Philly, and if there wasn't an active Heath inspection going on, none of the sushi chefs at Morimoto would wear gloves.

  4. I love the taste of powdered gloves.

    1. Smell the glove

  5. Welp - looks like the cops just executed another guy. This time in San Diego.

    1. For making sushi without gloves? Man, they're strict.

  6. Do I need to wear gloves when I eat my food? My hands COULD BE contaminated!!!!

    1. Damn it! Stop giving them ideas!

    2. No. But you do need to wear a condom.

  7. California is fucked up.

    1. California is fucked up.


      I won't even visit there unless to go see the one guy I know who lives there because I refuse to be caught up in in arbitrary regulatory bullshit.

  8. I'm going house shopping on Redfin tonight.

  9. It is the endless barage of shit like this that makes me want to leave my home of SF. I was born here, but fuck, the parade of insanity has continued unabated. I'm stubborn enough to want to stay and not give up to the statist arseholes. Eventually I will have to get myself and my family out.

    1. That's Suell of you.

  10. The great irony is that food handlers tend to wash their gloved hands less than their ungloved hands, which increases the chances of cross contamination.

    For example, take a cook who is prepping chicken. Without gloves his hands are covered in chicken slime. Before switching to vegetables he will wash that slippery slime off of his hands because it feels gross to do otherwise. But if he's wearing gloves he might just unthinkingly move to the next job without washing or changing his gloves, because his gloved covered hands feel clean.

    I remember defying management when they told me I had to wear a stinky Teflon glove when the other hand held a knife. Not only does that glove carry bacteria, but it makes me less able to grip what I'm trying to cut. So I refused and dared them to fire me.

    Show me someone who supports using gloves in food preparation and I'll show you someone with minimal if any experience in preparing food.

    The wise old widower next door gave me the best description of government I have yet to hear, other than Bastiat's. He said government is a bunch of idiot who tell the experts how to do their job.

    1. I'm glad I'm not the only one that knows about this. I'd rather have my food prepared by someone who is washing their hands on a regular basis than someone who is using the same damned pair of gloves, taking them off and putting them on, for hours. There's a far greater chance of contamination from those icky gloves being reused than someone washing or sanitizing their bare hands.

    2. It's not food safety that these food nazi are after. It's control over YOUR life. All other things are just their excuses for power.

    3. sarcasmic|1.10.14 @ 8:10PM|#
      "The great irony is that food handlers tend to wash their gloved hands less than their ungloved hands, which increases the chances of cross contamination."

      Similarly, the ban on one-use bags is increasing food-borne diseases, but hey, the land-fill is .001" lower than it would be otherwise.
      Save the land-fill!

    4. ^^This. If I'm running a razor sharp Wusthof at light speed, I need to feel where it is with my knuckles.

    5. I like when that savory mix of sweat and rapidly multiplying bacteria goes flying while changing gloves because someone is leaning through the pass screaming for their (whatever fucking dish). I also like when the sweat inside the glove boils when your hand is near a burner or oven and explodes sending bacteria soup shooting into everything on a burner and boiling your skin off at the same time. Now you've got 4 hours left with an open wound...

      1. Also this ^^^^

    6. That or they just change their gloves without washing their hands.

  11. Somewhere Jiro Ono is commiting seppuku.

  12. "There's no better place to do business than right here in the United States of America."

    -Barack Obama

    1. "We gonna fix that"

  13. Why on earth would anyone live in California? I mean, I know I've asked that question before... but why?

    1. I was born here, all immediate family lives in SF or nearby and I can make a good living here that would be difficult to replicate almost anywhere else. But yes, the amount of bullshit only grows.


    3. This place is worth saving. The weather, geography, and natural resources are unlike anywhere else in the country. And depending on where you live the people aren't all that bad either.

      1. Your first bad assumption is that it can be saved. The rest follow.

    4. I moved here four months ago for a job. Worst mistake of my life.

  14. I was recently in a wonderful market in China, in Xi'an, the muslim quarter. Best fucking lamb skewers I ever had in my life, for like $2 off the street. As I walked around trying the food, I kept hearing Anthony Bourdain's words (referring to a french place he was in): "Everything about this place that makes it wonderful would be illegal in the United States."

    Meanwhile I'm getting a stomach ache from the pre-packaged turkey sandwich that I just ate, which I'm sure was 100% safety-regulated by the good ol' USA into oblivion.

    Truly we're fucked.

    1. What's on the dollar menu?

    2. I wasn't thrilled with the serving arrangements when we were in China.
      Bowl or plate full of whatever, people take some with the sticks, plop it in their mouths and reach back with the same sticks.
      Mmmmmm; sharing spit with a whole lot of folks!

    3. It's worth noting that Anthony Bourdain is completely full of shit and that France (I saw that episode too) has way more food taboos than anywhere I've ever been in the U.S.

      1. I've seen him say this (or something very similar) in many episodes. One in particular was when he was wandering around an open air Asian food court of some kind and noted that none of this would be allowed in the US and how horrible that fact was.

        1. I realize this, but I was referring to that one particular episode when he was doing his usual, "Ermagerd, your country is so much more visceral and 'real' than 'Murica" shtick in France. A nation that has more food taboos, both cultural and legal, than just about anywhere in the U.S.

          Bourdain is a ignorant douchebag hipster who kisses ass of foreigners by slagging his home country because he's too stupid to think of any other to compliment somebody on their culture.

          He's full of shit. He makes the mistake a lot of "coasters" make in thinking that New York is all of 'Murica.

  15. There is a way for restaurants to seek an exemption for specific situations, but it's unlikely that the exemption covers "thousands of years of tradition."

    *** rising intonation ***

    What if it's *religious* tradition?

  16. Gloves are fine, unless the people wearing them never fucking change them between picking their ass, handling trash, dirty dish rags, and making food.

  17. OT - Mark Shea at Patheos shows us a "six-wheel, 61,700-pound armored vehicle to transport SWAT teams." The cops in Ft. Pierce, FL just got one. Jaywalkers beware!


      1. Wow, tge second link works!

        1. While that is an armored truck, its not 30 tons.

  18. Dude seems to know whats going on man.


  19. When will this state have some kind of nuclear accident so we can just put red lines through it on all our maps?

  20. These rules have been brought about by .http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ServSafe

    This has been standard operating procedure especially at large institutions for some time now. Most of the procedures are just common sense. The problem that frequently occurs is when the "Office Chefs", and the "Paper Chefs" that do not do any cooking at all decide they want to impress the health inspector by making their employee's wear gloves All The Time instead of when its appropriate.

  21. Good, I dont want no ones bare hands on my food anyways.


  22. Does this mean I can't eat sushi with my bare hands either, or is that one coming along later?

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.