accessAtlanta

City & State or ZIP Tonight, this weekend, May 5th...
City & State or ZIP
City & State or ZIP Tonight, this weekend, May 5th...
City & State or ZIP

Sushi preparation: to glove or not to glove

"Look ma, gloved hands!"

"Look ma, gloved hands!"

Recently, Chef Taka Moriuchi of Taka Sushi and Passion restaurant in Buckhead published a post on his blog Sushi and Passion regarding regulations now requiring chefs in Fulton County to wear gloves while preparing sushi.

Moriuchi states, “We need to wear glove all the time when we touch raw fish. But, is it clean? We tried.. and realized that making sushi with glove is not easy. Rice stick on glove and can not make right size of nigiri sushi.”

I recently witnessed this at a different sushi restaurant here in Fulton County, and frankly it looks weird (mostly because I’m not used to seeing this). I asked the chef of this restaurant how he felt about having to wear gloves now and he responded that he didn’t mind.

From my sushi bar vantage point, I watched this chef prepare dish after dish of sushi items for customers for nearly an hour, and in that time I did not witness him wash his hands nor replace his gloves once. To me, that chef letting all those myriad of fish oils and its natural moisture linger on his gloved hands raises a flag more than sushi chefs not wearing gloves. I’m also wondering if this chef was desensitized to the oil, film and sticky rice residue and just didn’t know any better.

For the most part, I don’t have an issue with the kitchen handling and preparing my meals without gloves. As an avid cook, there is no way I can continue to efficiently prepare meals as oils, juices, crumbs and ingredients that tend to clump or become gooey accumulate on the skin. Basically, I have to consistently wash my hands as I switch from task to task, or at times — from ingredient to ingredient.

I’ve also prepared food with gloves and admit there is a fineness that is lost when doing so. Moriuchi continues, “But we do not wear glove when make sushi in Japan. A human being skin is really useful.” This statement alludes to Moriuchi’s earlier complaint about the size of his nigiri sushi.

What are your thoughts about this? Are you in the hands-off camp, or are you fine with your sushi, or any food for that matter, being bare-handled? Sanitarily, is this a move in the right direction, or is this taking a step backward?

by Gene Lee, Food and More blog

37 comments Add your comment

Kirk

December 21st, 2011
7:11 am

Gloves are a total waste of time. Washing hands has been and still is the way to go.We have become a nation of germaphobes . Gloves get just as nasty as hands do and must be changed over and over again.

Lisa

December 21st, 2011
7:37 am

When I took my Serve Safe class, the instructor said she thought food is probably less clean under the “glove law.” Nothing beats washing your hands.

Ryan

December 21st, 2011
8:09 am

Looks like I won’t be eating sushi in Fulton Co anytime soon

AJ

December 21st, 2011
8:09 am

If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. It’s amazing what regulations/laws our elected/appointed officials come up with. If I’m worried about a bare hand touching my food, I wouldn’t eat out anywhere – sushi or other food.

CDW

December 21st, 2011
8:41 am

Yuck. Gloves are just a way to drag dirt from one dish to another – no one washes their hands when they are wearing gloves. I’m pretty grossed out about this one.

Ancient Chinese Secret

December 21st, 2011
9:03 am

Confucious say “No glove, no love”

Grasshopper

December 21st, 2011
9:03 am

I agree with the other posters. Gloves give the preparer a false snse of safety; “I’m wearing gloves so everything must be sanitary!”

A few years ago I saw a study comparing plastic cutting boards to wooden ones. Under the same conditions, the wooden ones proved to be more sanitary and distribute less germs. The theory as to why is that wood (even dead wood) contains natural anti-microbials that fight germs. The germs can also seep down into the wood where they die off instead of floating on the surface like they do on plastic.

It seems that this same theory would hold true for human flesh versus plastic, as long as the preparer is not touching other objects and washing their hands consistently.

Mother Nature really does know best.

bbqbudha

December 21st, 2011
9:13 am

I hate gloves…and I’m Budha…

Reds

December 21st, 2011
9:19 am

Agreed. Gloves don’t really mean that much. While working in a kitchen, I saw folks pick stuff off the floor with gloves on and then go back to preparing food. It’s just the way that it is.

Donald

December 21st, 2011
9:23 am

We’ve survived how long as a species without using gloves to prepare food?

Sargon

December 21st, 2011
9:30 am

When the Subway employee who makes my sandwich also handles the money, I want to see gloves going on and off all day. When a sushi professional, who only handles food, is forced to wear gloves I believe there will be more “cross polinating” of foods. I have washed some wash their hands compulsively between different foods. Fulton county – see how the political class there running things has a mind set to overregulate what they do not understand.

Sargon

December 21st, 2011
9:31 am

“watched”

Hungry Gringo

December 21st, 2011
9:37 am

Gloves are horse$hit. When I worked at a sandwich shop in high school, the people who didn’t wear gloves washed their hands constantly because they could feel the gross accumulation of grime. However, the people who wore gloves would go 4-5 hours without changing gloves.

Johnnie Cocharan

December 21st, 2011
9:41 am

If the glove don’t fit, you MUST acquit!

indigo

December 21st, 2011
9:43 am

No gloves. This is a bad regulation that probably makes matters worse.

Gene Lee

December 21st, 2011
9:49 am

Wow, the people have spoken!

Coffee Tawk

December 21st, 2011
9:54 am

Sorry, but I don’t want something as delicate as sushi tasting like latex. Frequent hand washing is the way to go.

cc

December 21st, 2011
10:02 am

common sense here for food preparers:

Gloves a MUST= you have cuts on your hands or something else going on but please change gloves and wash your hands often

No Gloves= most of the time….. just make sure you wash your hands

I am a firm believer that people’s fears have made for toooooo many rules that have over complicated the most simple things. It is time to quit making rules and teach people how to think again. ( and that is think… think does not mean sit and worry)

LawDawg

December 21st, 2011
10:16 am

This is stupid. I am not a libertarian or anything, but why are we passing health regulations for a nonexistent problem? Was there a rash of people in Fulton getting sick from sushi and the council felt they just HAD to get involved? My guess is no.

Kar

December 21st, 2011
10:25 am

I guess I’ll be part of the minority but frankly, I get grossed out when food preparers don’t wear gloves. As far as cross-contimination goes, that’s why they’re disposable. It’s not that difficult people, if police, emergency workers and medical personnel can do it with stricter policies, a sandwich guy can put on new gloves after working the register.

I understand the sushi chef’s problem with the rice but for the most part, I don’t want the crap from under someone else’s nails in my food. Especially long nails typically found on women. Another problem is jewelry. It amazes me how many people think nothing of mixing ingrediants while wearing rings with stone settings or dangly bracelets. They look like salmonella traps.

That was my biggest problem with shows like Ace of Cakes. Watching these people roll fondant between their palms and fingers convinced me that I would never eat one of those cakes if offered.

iSushi

December 21st, 2011
10:26 am

I would rather eat sushi prepared with bare hands than drive next to a simpleton playing or talking on their cell phone.

Cell Phone Drivers, Kill Yourselves! (Yes, YOU, too.)

WHITEandGOLD

December 21st, 2011
10:40 am

Soap is very inexpensive… Gloves are not…On the other hand gloves should be used when appropriate…I.E. Cuts on hands, skin disease, etc. If that is part of the craft then let it be. We need to go on the thought that this is their livelihood and making people sick could definately hurt business.

donkey200

December 21st, 2011
10:41 am

No gloves for sushi. I watch sushi chefs without gloves and they constantly wash their hands. In hospitals, providers are supposed to wash their hands before and after changing gloves and they must change gloves between patients. They don’t which leads to increased infection rates in hospitals.

Gene Lee

December 21st, 2011
10:49 am

Kar – I agree with you there regarding jewelry — kindly remove the bling.

Marcus welby md

December 21st, 2011
10:59 am

Let’s look back, if you will…to the late 1700’s, when French doctors discovered that hand washing between examining each patient in hospitals actually increased the survival rate and lowered the death rate versus doctors that didnt wash. Sushi chefs are craftsmen, if you will, skilled in an art form. I would rather eat from a sushi chefs bare hand, who does one thing, prepare sushi, than from a long list of fast food places, where food, money, trash cans, etc all pass through the same hand of the employees. Shortly after discovering hand washing, French doctors discovered French fries……

Coffee Tawk

December 21st, 2011
11:00 am

If we force sushi chefs to wear gloves, the terrorists win.

Grasshopper

December 21st, 2011
11:00 am

Don’t police and other emergency workers use gloves more to protect themselves from germs. The cleaning lady in our office wears disposable gloves when she empties the trash. She is protecting herself, not me.

A sushi chef needs to protect his customers, not himself.

M. Johnson

December 21st, 2011
12:11 pm

It must be difficult to prepare sushi with gloves after years of training with bare hands.

At lunch yesterday, I watched a very disorganized, glove-wearing sushi chef dash off to other stations for ingredients. I really wished he had changed gloves between dishes. This new rule doesn’t make me feel safer. Guess I need to find better spots outside of Fulton.

@Coffee Tawk: HA!

[...] Atlanta Journal Constitution (blog) [...]

Clinresga

December 21st, 2011
12:37 pm

I’ll offer a different perspective than most of the glove-haters above.

‘m a physician and see probably at least a dozen cutaneous staph infections a week. At least a third of them are with the highly resistant MRSA strain of staph. What is often unrecognized is that a substantial percentage of these patients will remain staph-colonized even after full treatment with antibiotics. This can result in multiple recurrences of the infection, and is likely at least in part responsible for the continued spread of staph to new individuals. The commonest location for staph to colonize is in the nose, but palms are another area that can harbor staph continuously. That is true even when patients wash their hands frequently, even using antibacterial cleansers like chlorhexidine.

I agree that wearing gloves for long periods of time risks cross contamination from one food or environmental surface to the next. However, gloves do offer at least partial protection from transmission of colonized staph on the hands to your food, plate, dish, etc. That’s true even after extended glove wear, as long as the integrity of the glove is not breached.

One additional comment: frequent hand washing sounds like a good policy. However, based on my experience with occupational hand dermatitis, the percentage of patients who will ultimately develop severe to incapacitating irritant hand dermatitis from frequent washing is substantial. It is just not realistic to expect that people will be able to wash their hands dozens of times a day, especially if using soaps and cleansers, without a significant percentage becoming incapable of performing their jobs due to cumulative severe irritation of the skin.

So, there is no perfect solution, but gloves may play at least one role in prevention of disease spread.

PS: yes it’s true that “we never used to do this.” But it’s also true that staph infections were virtually unheard of outside of hospitals back then. The game has changed, so the rules need to change too. That argument is like my parents who argue “you grew up never wearing seat belts and you did just fine,” ignoring the indisputable data showing that seat belt use saves thousands of lives every year.

TL

December 21st, 2011
3:14 pm

Kar,

Gloves aren’t necessarily cleaner than hands that are properly washed. People tend to not change gloves frequently enough which results in them being less sanitary in many cases.

FoodFan

December 21st, 2011
4:05 pm

Sushi has always been one of those things that “you get what you pay for”. Cheap sushi, I don’t think it matters whether someone is wearing a glove or not: the fish isn’t as good, the staff isn’t as well trained, you run the risk of getting sick. Good sushi is expensive for a reason: you have highly-trained chefs that know what they are doing and – above all – have the highest amount of respect (rather, REVERANCE) for the ingredients they use. Not to mention the respect they have for their knives, workspace, cleanliness, etc. That is the difference that is lost on these blanket policies – the few bad places ruin all the good ones.

Kar

December 21st, 2011
4:45 pm

TL, that doesn’t exactly made me feel better about people either washing their hands or wearing gloves. Gloves though have the advantage of cutting down on contamination by the food workers regardless if they washed their hands.

Gloves are cleaner but either way, the employees need to follow a health protocol.

Ed

December 22nd, 2011
10:15 am

After having nearly died because of cross-contamination at a sushi restaurant (I’m severely allergic to shellfish, the chef was told this but he did not wash his hands after handling crabmeat, he only wiped them then made my rolls. An epi-pen and quick dash to the ER that was nearby saved me), I certainly will not be visiting any sushi restaurants in Fulton county. There is simply no substitute for hand-washing. And to the “doctor” claiming frequent hand-washing would be dangerous, that’s BS. When I’m cooking I probably wash my hands several dozen times (thank you OCD!) without any ill effects.

Wino

December 22nd, 2011
3:53 pm

To all you glove supporters out there, do you use gloves when you prepare food at home? Hmmm… Why not? Kar, I bet you carry disinfectant in your purse and use it at least ten times a day.

Kar

December 23rd, 2011
10:17 am

wino, if you can’t understand the difference between a private kitchen and a professional one then your arguments are moot.

wino

December 23rd, 2011
10:33 pm

Kar, I have worked in restaurants, hotels, and the supporting businesses for them for over 40 years. I completely understand. Clean is clean. No amount of gloves will protect you from a worker that doesn’t understand cross contamination. The germs that affix themselves to hands do not avoid gloves. The only solution is training.