Oregon Health Authority backs off proposed rule that would have forbidden restaurant employees from handling food with bare hands; agency to instead convene work group on standards to prevent food-borne illness

PORTLAND, Oregon , July 17, 2012 () – The Oregon Health Authority backed off of a proposed rule that would have forbidden restaurant employees from handling food with their bare hands.

Oregon Public Broadcasting reported the agency would instead convene a work group on standards to prevent food-borne illness.

That provision was to take effect on July 1, but was delayed after protests from the food service industry.

The work group will include restaurateurs, legislators, medical professionals and others.

“I require that cooks wear (gloves) when handling raw meat, fish, and poultry; as well as any task that necessitates really getting your hands into something, such as picking cooked chicken meat. However, I do not feel like this law will increase food safety,” Portland chef Samuel Smith said. “If (hand washing) is done properly, there should be no risk of contamination. The continuous wearing of gloves makes an environment suited for the growth of bacteria, much more so than not wearing gloves.”

Chefs also mentioned the cost and waste that would ensue if the rule had been made law.

The agency's Public Health Division administrator Gail Shibley says the state will continue to enforce its double hand-washing rule for food servers until any changes are announced.

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