The Importance of Food Preparation Regulations

California food code sushiIn order to provide a more sanitary environment, California has passed new legislation to require that all culinary workers wear gloves while handling food. Among the most vocal critics of the law are bartenders, who find gloves to be inconveniencing especially during peak hours, and sushi chefs who find that the quality of their sushi declines with the barrier between their hands and the ingredients.

Sushi is unlike other foods in the way that making expert level sushi is an extremely and directly tactile process. Expert sushi chefs feel the need to have direct contact with the sushi, feeling with their hands the exact properties of rice, nori (seaweed) and food items. While to the vast majority of sushi consumers there will be no noticeable difference between sushi made by bare hands and those by chefs with gloves, the sushi chefs themselves and true lovers of sushi can tell that they are not quite reaching the perfection that they need to take sushi from food to art form. If you know any serious sushi chefs, you know that they seek to perfect their craft, and gloves are one more obstacle preventing them from creating the dishes they envision.

The mentality of a sushi chef is one of exacting standards, and loose fitting gloves impede them from reaching their potential. Some sushi chefs have over 30 years perfecting their art, and their hands have decades of experience knowing the perfect, exact movements to turn sushi into art. While it might not seem like a big deal to the average person, the pursuit of perfection inherent to any serious sushi chef brings understandable criticism of the law. Though to be fair, the possibility of cross-contamination of food is a very real concern, and no one should get sick (or worse) from something preventable.

For the first six months of the new law, offenders will only be given a verbal warning. But after that, they could be found in violation of health code laws, which has huge ramifications for restaurant owners. There is a possibility for exemption to the laws, which restaurants can apply for. For fine dining restaurants, it would be more feasible to be granted an exception, and California sushi lovers can only hope that their favorite restaurant is able to be exempt from the laws, or that those who prepare food learn to manage the change with minimal difficulties.

Warren Ransom

I have always been fascinated by the creation and culture of different foods, particularly sushi and sashimi in the modern era of Japanese cuisine. I am a classically trained chef and sushi connoisseur, also having operated a food service company and enjoy investigating and experimenting with food around the world.

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