Bare Hand Contact Exemption for Pizza Making

I’ve done a search for this topic but haven’t found anything on it so I’ll ask the question.

We were recently inspected by our local environmental health official and were made aware of the change in regulations as of 1 Dec 07 that all Ready to Eat foods (RTEs), which includes cooked meat toppings, mozzarella, etc., must be handled with disposable gloves or utensils. (Anything which can be consumed safely without additional processing.)

The rule was written without any provision for subsequent baking, which seems a bit unfair to pizza makers, as all of our toppings are undergoing a heating process which should easily destroy any harmful pathogens before they reach the consumer. (I mean, the rule only applies to RTE foods, not raw items such as fresh sausage, etc.)

My local health department official has suggested a HAACP, which is lengthy waiver process and requires a third party to provide data to back up the claim that all pathogens are destroyed during the baking process.

After contacting the state director of the restaurant association (Georgia), he contacted the Environmental Health top official who pretty much backed up the local inspector. (Bottom line, if you want to be exempt from the disposable glove rule, file a HAACP plan, which Papa John’s has already done, evidentally.)

Am I the only one out here who hasn’t been using disposable gloves in assembling pizzas?

Does anyone here know of something done on a national level to address this issue, or is it only in the state of Georgia?

Using gloves is not the end of the world, but it will slow us down (adding costs) and seems somewhat unfair considering the process we follow. (Had the rule included the provision for handling RTEs prior to processing (baking), this would not be an issue.

Any thoughts?

I would contact your restaurant association.

READY TO EAT food is just that, READY TO EAT it is not cooked. So they are mistaken. That would mean anything we handle, we would have to wear gloves. From pasta to well… anything.

Call your restaurant association.

Kris

I just recently received an inspection here in Fl. and was also informed that we needed to wear gloves. Apparently, a new health code was enacted in July and requires an AOP (alternative operating plan). It is really just a plan that you have to have to not use gloves. Ie… after a break, coming to work, leaving the bathroom, etc…
bubba

For us, ready to eat is slices from the warmer; they are “ready to eat”.

Food that is yet to be cooked is not “ready to eat” until it is cooked… hence, no gloves required for pizza makers.

Salad is another story.

I am in Georgia, as well, and find that the local Health Departments are rather autonomous and have siginificant authority of inspection and enforcement. My recommendation would be to ask politely for a reference to the section in the State Code (OCGA) regarding their decision and interpretation.

My local HD director also was heading down that road to plastic gloves for pizza station. I discussed the “Kill step” of baking . . . and she mentioned that we were using the pizza prep station for salad and sandwich ingredients as well. That was a little kicker, so we established a separate prep process and food bins for ready to eat salad stuff where staff use tongs and gloves for building salads or ready to eat sandwich toppings. That assuaged all her concerns and she passed us on.

We looked at 290-5-14.01(nnnn) Definitions for our discussion. Since we are a pizzeria, there is never an instance where items on our prep line will be served “without additional preparation to achieve food safety”. We demonstrated that our pizza toppings get to safe temp consistently, and that we use DayDots to mark our food for rotation and disposal, and made our case that this meets the letter as well as the intent of the statute. We have a procedure in place wherein the prep table is not definable as “ready to eat” foods.

All really “ready-to-eat” items are taken from containers wherein no ungloved human hand has touched. This makes it discernable from the prep line.

I know our regulations do not reflect yours in the US, so I won’t go there, but we wear gloves regardless.

Our health inspector said that due to the high heat and time taken to cook pizzas that we are not required to wear gloves. Have you ever seen a chef in a kitchen wear gloves? NEVER.

As a consumer confidence thing we wear them. We also have a rule that anyone touching food wears gloves be it the drivers doing prep, the young guy on Friday nights pasting and cheesing the bases to the bench makers. A box of 100 disposable gloves cost $4 and we go through about 6 - 8 boxes a week.

Customers get the feeling that their pizzas are made with care and in a healthy enviroment.

The biggest plus is that you don’t go home with “onion hands” and that is worth double the $20 - 30 per week cost of the gloves.

Dave

Fla is indeed, now requiring the use of gloves for all food prep, including topping/tossing the pizza…

So they’re requiring you to wear gloves because all of the ingredients are safe to consume before baking. But if you decided to put raw meat on the pizza you would suddenly not have to wear gloves?

You’re health inspector is not very bright. He has no idea what “ready to eat” means.

exact same thing here in indiana. Easy fix…no where on my menu can you order sausage JUST SAUSAGE…
if you do then I will wear gloves, 15 years never came up… everything else goes through my 550 degree oven.
now if this doesnt work I suggest having your health inspector in for a meeting with her supervisor (an on-site visit) do it during lunch let them know you will be serving food, have your server bring out an uncooked pizza with those toppings on it. when they show a little face politly say dont worry we wore gloves… bon appetit.

It’s not necessarily the health inspector thats not very bright. Mine gave me a form today that specifically addresses this and in areas specifically addresses pizza toppings.

The 2001 Food Code defines a ready to eat food as a food that:
*Is in a form that is edible and does not requireadditional heat treatment(to kill bacteria or viruses) or freezing(to destroy parasites) in order to make it safe to eat;
*Is a raw or partially cooked animal…
*May recieve additional preparation(heating) in order to make the food more palatable or more pleasing to touch, taste, look or smell.

Foods may be in a form that is safe to eat from a food safety standpoint, and yet not be ready for service to the customer(eg. frozen/refrigerated cooked meat). Heating food to improve it’s taste or smell is common, but does not alter the Food Code definition that describes the food as “ready to eat” because the food has already been cooked to the minimum required temperature and safely cooled. The term “ready to eat” does not require food to be ready to serve, only that it is safe to eat.

Examples of foods that are R-T-E, but may not be commonly recognized as R-T-E include:

*Pizza toppings such as raw vegetables, pepperoni, pre-cooked ground beef or sausage, and pre cooked ham or bacon:

All she is doing is addressing what her superiors have specifically made a point of having her address. The not very bright people are a little higher up than the inspectors. I can’t find this form online, but if anyone would like for me to fax it to them, PM me your fax number and I’ll send it over ASAP.

Paul got it right. I received the same form. No problem, just follow the rules and keep food safety top of mind awareness for us and our employees.

I learned a long time ago there are 3 people you do not want to make upset…the repair man for your equipment, the driver for your food truck and the health inspector. They can make your day or not.

Bubba

we have an open kitchen and proudly wear gloves.It fortifies your restaurants clean & safe image.Plus if you ever take time to notice you might find your kitchen crew picking their noses,cleaning their ears,or even grooming their
hair subconsciously,They never knew they were doing this until I pointed this out.Regardless what the law is consider it a step in the right direction .

I guess we’ll be using gloves. It’s just one more item, like government dictated wages, that we get to follow, regardless of the sensibility of it.

It just grates on me a bit that those who write and enforce these things never have to live under them themselves, while daily responding to the market forces which we all face.

Maybe I’m just jealous because they have better health and vacation benefits. :roll:

I’m not going to argue that you’re right or wrong on this but I’ve never really understood why having gloves on is more hygenic than good handwashing practise. Indeed I’d suggest that without gloves people are more likely to wash their hands more regularly than those with gloves on will swap them for new gloves or wash with gloves on. Having gloves on does not stop anyone grooming, touching etc. Gloves do not stop cross contamination, they do not stop contact with dirty, germs or anything - all they do is to start with a clean surface. With gloves on its very hard to tell you have food debris on your hands.

BUT if my local heath inspector says wear them then I guess I would.

My county HD made it a point to tell me we did’nt need to use gloves for any type of pizza making JUST BECAUSE IT GOES INTO A 500F OVEN.

But because we do sandwiches and put “cold toppings” onto them (i.e. fresh tomato, onion, lettuce), we MUST use the gloves for that part of the kitchen.

We have a huge procedural problem and even huger (huger??) safety problem with single-use plastic gloves in that our pizza maker is the oven tender.

  1. put on gloves
  2. stretch dough
  3. build pizza
  4. put pizza into back of oven
    5 run screaming to water faucet to stop the melting magma that used ot be a glove from burning down to the bone

ALTERNATIVELY
4. dispose of glove
5. place pizza in over
6. wash hands and dry thoroughly
7. put on clean gloves
8. repeat from #2

See, the regulations state that hands must be washed and dried thoroughly when replacing one’s gloves. One or more gloves per pizza and handwashing step for each and every pizza will get overwhelming fast. Or I can spend money on another staff person to satisfy the health department rules? I thought it prudent to sit down with the inspector and reason it through to come to a better solution. $50 for a salad prep cooler, and a new procedure in the kitchen worked out.

Apparently all these regulations that have come into effect since I started in this business 50 some years ago are because of the hundreds of citizens being killed yearly from restaurant food???

I do not have access to the statistics but I doubt if they have changed much from those in 1952.

I think much of the illness now prevalent is due to people not encountering enough germs in their early life and not developing immunities to them.

When I was in school no kids were allergic to peanut butter. It was a staple of every mothers prepared and brown bagged school lunches. What happened? Where did that and all kinds of allergies and maladies virtually unknown in the 40’s come from?

George Mills

You’re right Paul, I’m probably misplacing the blame on the inspector when it’s actually the supervisor responsible.

I just don’t understand in anyway why you would require somebody to wear gloves while making something that will be cooked. I would argue that wearing gloves in a long term situation is less hygenic than bare hands. The regulations here are that you must change gloves every four hours. Four hours. How is wearing a glove for four hours any different than using bare hands? At least with bare hands my employees tend to wash after every 3 or 4 pizzas. Make them wear gloves and I guarantee they’ll go their entire shift without changing them.

We of course use gloves for salads, sandwiches and anything else ready to eat. Even that, however, I don’t fully comprehend. To put the gloves on you have to touch the outside of the gloves. Whatever was on your hand is now on the outside of the glove that’s about to touch the food. I suppose that’s why they make you wash your hands before and after using gloves. But if your hands are already clean…

I dunno, I just don’t get the glove thing.

ahh…you miss the concept!!!

you must wash your hands b4 u put on the gloves, silly!

a couple of inspections ago, I took an order, took the money then put on gloves 2 make a sub…after the customer left I was chastized by the inspector…go figure…can’t even “rinse” them off in sanitizer, but must go thru the washing routine b 4 the gloves are applied…

along a similar note…last shop (90% wholesale) was under Dept of Ag & its guideline, hence I had 2 wear a hat @ all times (I’m nearly bald!) and gloves wern’t an issue

new shop is traditional & under Dept of H & R, so hats are not an issue, but gloves are…

all in the wonderful state of confusion, er, Florida…

I know its a slight different issue but this reminds me a of an incident I witnessed as a customer about 5 years ago.

A group of us went to a, then, local restaurant that served, amongst other things, pizza. The pizza prep was done open plan on one side of the eating area with a wood or coal fired oven (I’m sure you get the picture) with the flames visible from within the oven. The pizza guy took great pleasure in slapping and tossing the pizza for all to see. Everyone watched him. I must say for effect it was really good.

One evening they were really busy and there was only just one guy doing pizza. The shop was really warm and this guy must have been really hot stood in front of the oven. I’d eaten my meal (I’d not had pizza BTW) and noticed that this guy looked really hot. So hot in fact his forehead was really sweaty (can you gues where this is going?). I watched as he carefully (not using his hands) wiped his forehead up his arm taking care not to use his hands! Then proceeded to make another pizza. Of course no sweat on his hands UNTIL he starts to slap and toss the pizza - all the way up his arm!

Oh how gross. I mentioned it to someone else on my table and gradually more and more people started to watch to him (most not sure why we were watching him) to see if he did it again. I think he must have thought that everyone was impressed and he started to put on a bit of show. A few minutes later with quite a few people watching he did it again - and you could hear the groans from the room. At that moment I guess he must have figured out just what he’d done as he quickly disappeared.

We left shortly after I bet there were a few complaints that night. My wife has occasionally eaten there (not pizza though) since and always keeps an eye on what the pizza guys does (I don’t think its the same one).

I guess it wouldn’t have been a problem if he wore gloves :slight_smile: Don’t mention this to your health inspector they may require your staff to be ‘shrink wrapped’ coming out of a steam shower before each shift!!