Remember to use gloves for public health

When the food court opened its doors in Grambling, many students were brimming with excitement at the possibility of having immediate access to their favorite fast food restaurants, which would naturally become the local watering hole. This excitement also extended to the modern architectural design that would encase the restaurants, a stark contrast to the predominant architectural design of the buildings that comprise Grambling State University. This modern food court is also in keeping with the infrastructural metamorphosis that has become apparent on the campus.

Though I am not a fast food aficionado, I do however, purchase the occasional French fries when the craving surfaces. On my first visit to the Burger King section of the food court I was appalled to see that the workers/servers were not wearing any gloves while handling raw meat, vegetables, buns etc. I sought redress by explaining to the manager what I witnessed.

My complaint did not receive the response which I anticipated as it is evident the problem still exists. In the end, I was left with a feeling of persistent confusion, as I did not, and do not understand why wearing gloves was not mandated by the manager of the establishment, especially because of the health risks which customers are exposed to.

According to the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals, 2006, on its “Retail Food Program Homepage”, there are 16,017 restaurants in the state of Louisiana, not including markets and lounge bars where food is also handled and prepared. The site went on further to describe facts related to food-borne illness in the United States. According to the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals more than 250 food-borne diseases exists which contribute to 76 million cases of disease annually. These diseases manifest into 325, 000 hospitalizations and about 5000 deaths across the U.S. per year.

Recently the shocking news was delivered to me that the preceding issue is not endemic to Grambling establishments, but has also been witnessed elsewhere in Louisiana. It has been rumored that the wearing of gloves is NOT a legal requirement in the state of Louisiana (gasp!!!). Based on my research I was however unable to prove this rumor true.

In an e-mail correspondence with the editor of the Louisiana Register, Catherine Brindley revealed the rules and regulations as it pertains to the use of gloves at retail establishments:

LAC 51:XXIII.2117. Gloves, Use Limitations [formerly paragraph 22:16]

A. If used, single use gloves shall be used for only one task such as working with ready-to-eat food or with raw animal food, used for no other purpose, and discarded when damaged or soiled, or when interruptions occur in the operation.

The enigma then surfaces. With all the health concerns outlined by the Louisiana Health and Hospitals, in addition to the clause which stipulates how and when gloves should be used at retail establishments, why hasn’t any of it registered with the establishments in Grambling?

If the relevant information has not made it through labyrinth of bureaucracy and lines of communication, then here it is, Please Use Gloves. According to Brindley, reports could be made at the Retail Food Program in the Office of Public Health if these aforementioned rules are not adhered to. Their web link is www.dhh.louisiana.gov/offices.