Some restaurants at odds with state over glove-wearing proposal

Some restaurants at odds with state over glove-wearing proposal

PORTLAND, Ore. - The Oregon Health Authority has passed a new rule requiring restaurant workers who touch your food to wear gloves.

But the restaurant industry is pushing back.

The new rule was supposed to take effect Sunday but it was postponed so the state can hear more from the public.

The state is proposing the new glove requirement to stop the spread of diseases like Norovirus, citing a 2003 survey where 63 percent of Oregon restaurants were out of compliance with hand-washing rules. But gloving may actually result in the opposite of its intended effect.

Rob Brackenbury, co-owner of the Cadillac Café in Northeast Portland, said he thinks such a requirement may promote disease instead of preventing it.

"You put that glove on, you've got that warm moisture in there, it's a breeding ground," he said.

He also thinks gloves may make workers overconfident and likely to skip their required hand washing.

According to Jeremiah Morris, based on his experience as a chef at the café, each person would go through about 100 gloves in a 7-hour shift.

That means over the course of a year if 10 employees use one box of gloves a day at $8 a box, it would cost more than $29,000.

Additionally, those gloves will end up in a landfill.

Across the river in Vancouver, Troy Lovell, head cook at Paul’s Restaurant, wears gloves but only because he has too.

"It seems to be more of a hindrance than it is doing any good," he said.

In Washington, it's the law.

"My opinion as a cook, I disagree with them," Lovell said.

Instead of adding a new law, Brackenbury said he wishes Oregon would simply enforce the one already on the books.

"Focusing on making sure that facilities are adhering to the double hand-washing policy would be a much better way to protect the public," he said.

The state is planning a public hearing for Aug. 20.