Tuesday, January 21, 2014

California outlaws good sushi, allows only industrial sushi

Illegal activity! Courtesy Your Kitchen Camera
In the past five years, California has outlawed foie gras, shark fins and eggs from caged chickens. Two common threads in all these were motive -- concern about animals -- and general public approval, despite occasional mockery by food lovers. The caged-animal law was approved by 63% of voters.

California's attack on good sushi is different. Nobody was calling for it. Nobody was talking about it.  Nobody expected it. Bureaucrats thought outlawing good sushi was a good idea and imposed a law.

Good sushi must be made by hand. The sushi chef uses his experience and skills, including his sense of touch, to create it. You won't find good sushi anywhere in the world made by chefs in plastic gloves.

But that's the only kind of sushi now legal in California: industrial kitchen sushi.

Safer, yay! Except they're made of plastic. Courtesy Marketing Japan
From now on, anyone handling food that will not be cooked -- including bartenders -- will have to wear plastic gloves.

The law was imposed on state restaurants and diners by bureaucrats without any public debate. In fact, the state health department didn't even announce enforcement plans until last month, preventing any organized opposition before the rule came into effect Jan. 1.

The motive is not, like the other food bans, to improve the lives of fish. Instead, it's a misguided attempt to safeguard the health of diners. The rule solves a problem that doesn't exist. Food-borne illness outbreaks have been traced to vegetables and meat, but none to sushi chefs.

Moreover, it's a stupid idea that gives a false impression of sterility without making food service any safer. Someone wearing plastic gloves can touch raw chicken and then touch your salad. They can blow their nose in plastic gloves. They can wear the same plastic gloves all morning, and I'll let you imagine the implications.

This law treats every food handler like a teenager with a summer job at Burger King. It shows no respect for the many professionals who have studied food safety as well as culinary technique. It equalizes all chefs everywhere, not just sushi chefs, treating them all like dangerous, infectious fools.

I don't know what we need to do to get this stupid law overturned. But we need to do it. Because I don't want to have to drive to Oregon every time I want good sushi.

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1 comment:

rapopoda said...

So will raw bar chefs need to wear plastic gloves under their "shuckers gloves"?