I was just online shopping for food processing gloves. It made me thing about a recent baking class where the subject of food hygiene came up. Some people were more comfortable handling food (scraping batters, buttercream out of mixing bowl and off of beaters) with bare hands. I was in the camp that wore gloves. We were using commercial mixers; preparing batches for a dozen cakes; the bare hands group said it was simply easier when handling bulk batters. I've taken a lot of classes over the years, and this was the first time I've seen so much hand to food contact.
NorCalhiker (btw, Hi! I've been on vacation so haven't responded to your lovely PM yet. I'm getting in my CC "fix" tonight)
Many bakers and cooks say that "touching" the food gives important feedback as to the correct-ness of the food item.
I keep short nails and do not wear jewelry. I wash my hands frequently as I'm baking or making chocolate/ganache/frosting/batters, etc. If you observe clean food-handling rules, un-gloved hands are just fine. Cakes and frostings are especially safe because sugar is not a good growth medium for most bacteria.
Although food safe gloves are perceived as safe, many times they offer a sense of false comfort because the workers wearing the gloves will touch surfaces or things while wearing the gloves and then touch food. They "think" they are ok because they are wearing gloves, when, in fact, they are transferring germs and bacteria on the gloved surfaces.
An important exception for cake decorators is Norovirus which CAN affect frosting and make people sick. Here is a very concise post on another forum about the Norovirus concerns:
great stuff, apti, thank you!
fwiw the #1 mistake of proper hand washing is wet the hands firstbefore getting the soap --
norcalhiker, i use both leaning more toward clean bare hands but another consideration is that hands can become quite unhealthy in the gloves as you work and sweat and grind away your skin can take an unnatural beating in there so there's that to balance too
It depends on what your health dept requires. Where I am, gloves are required when handling food. I don't think the health inspector is going to care about your comfort or need to touch food. Also, I prefer gloves because I don't like getting goopy. I can work with fondant, BC, etc, and not have to scrub in between. I understand what Apti says about false security, but gloves not only protect against what some one might after touch after they put them on, but also just plain prevent whatever was on your hands before you gloved up from getting into the food. If some slob is gonna make my food (because they have a tendency to touch their hair, etc) I'd still rather them wear gloves (because chances are, they didbg wash their hands). I've seen poor hygiene habits with and without gloves. I prefer gloves.
and i mean think about our fruits out there in the wide open while they're growing with all manner of insects and birds flying/rabbits hopping over... we leave our dna everywhere --
when servers carrying our food speak, or when we speak while we are working over a cake...
our dna is everywhere so being as clean as possible as wisely as possible is our best resort
Bare hands here. I wash my hands scholastically before handling food (up to the elbows) and prior to doing that the kitchen and surfaces get a good scrub down with food safe disinfectant. I do not dip my fingers in to taste. If I need to taste, I use a clean spoon that goes in the sink after. My hair is tied back and prior to baking I have had a shower and washed my hair so there will be no loose hair. I always wear a clean white blouse because I am not comfortable with wearing aprons, either. I wash my hands after handling eggs and between colouring fondant. I do not keep my camera near my work area. If I need to take pictures, I wash my hands, take pictures, then leave the camera safe and wash my hands again. If the phone rings and I answer it, I'll wash my hands again. Gloves would not protect the consumer more than common sense will. I laugh when I see home cooks on TV wearing gloves. I find that so pretentious! Unless one has a dermatological disease or is wearing false nails and/or nail polish, bare hands are fine. No rings, no watches, no bracelets of course. If one should have long natural nails, they need to be scrubbed with a nail brush prior to handling food. But I'd be wary of long nails anyway as they can break...
^^^"Gloves would not protect the consumer more than common sense will."
They wear gloves at a bakery near by. Looks good at first glance but if I watch them what they touch without removing the gloves (drawer handles, till, their HAIR sometimes lol) BEFORE grabbing the next piece of bread to put in a bag for a customer. What's next? Full Face mask???
Actually I think it doesn't matter if one wears gloves or not as long as hands/ gloves are/stay clean.
i was working a cookie counter and this customer 'busted' me for touching her cookie without a glove and she launched into a sermon of who she is and who she works for and how they have thorough serious important breath taking classes on hygiene and all i did was touch her cookie with one finger to keep it from falling off the spatula -- of course i fully contaminated it and the entire bakery had to be pressure washed plus tent the place to rid it of the toxic munungous of my one teensy little finger touch -- but she waited till she got her cookies then complained -- and wouldn't let me change out her cookie -- omg -- guess she got to me huh
Bare hands washed frequently here. A beneficial side effect of this is that I NEVER, and I'm comfortable saying never, get sick. Now I'll probably catch something for saying that, but all the hand washing definitely helps keep you healthy. Gloves definitely give you a feeling of false security because you should be changing your gloves after touching things and washing hands in between changes to keep it food-safe "legal" and people don't really do that.
Thank you all for your very insightful and intelligent thoughts on the matter. No doubt there is no full proof way to prevent food contamination, but I'm beginning to realize diligence in hand washing is really the key. When I was at a culinary school in Italy, no one used gloves--but there was a lot of mandatory hand washing, in sinks designated for hand washing only. If any of the instructors notice any one touching something that would even remotely be cause for concern, they ordered you to the sinks for a scub.
Costumczar, your correlation between handwashing and not getting sick is spot on. I wash my hands a lot--I mean a lot. I've only had a cold/flu maybe once or twice in some 10 yrs.
Shockolata, I'd buy a cake from you any day! Your approach to food sanitation is very commendable. While I always pull my hair back, I never though about showering first. I like that.
K8Memphis, you are too funny! I read your comments twice--you make valid points about the overall environmental factors. A continuation of that line of thought is the vast majority of the population has a healthy immune system--so I'm not going to kill anyone by touching the buttercream.
Gloves are required WITH hand washing in most cases. So if you want to follow the health code, you should thoroughly wash your hands, then use gloves. To the point that you wash your hands often, technically hand washing is required BETWEEN EACH glove change.
^^^^ Gloves ARE NOT required everywhere. It depends on your state. In Texas, no.
I am in the school of really clean hands. Lots of hand washing, lots of cleaning. Gloves= false security, IMHO.
I do mystery shopping. One establishment I am required to observe requires the gloved service of food (burger place). HA! What I am asked to report is, are they wearing gloves? But the hair stroking, trash pick up, contaminated raw/ cooked service areas, etc cross contaminations are BEYOND crazy. But darn it--- they wear gloves!
PS. Not all food providers care to prevent illnesses and are just there to collect their paycheck.
Brookbakescake, in California, cottage food law mandates stringent hand washing (e.g., washing the arms if there is any possibility of contact with food; instances of contamination and/or cross contamination ). However, gloves are only required if hands have wounds, hangnails, rashes, etc. when gloves are used, then you are correct, hands must be washed first, and again when changing gloves.
Johnson6ofus...yup, I know what you mean! I was taking a cake class at CIA and darn if the friggin instructor didn't touch his nose, mouth, and hair--then ran those nasty dirty hands over my fondant. Needless to say I left the snot fingered cake on the counter after class. Everyone else took their cakes home. Yuk.