MEMPHIS, TN (abc24.com) - Tennessee's food and safety law hasn't been updated for more than three decades but it’s about to change. The Tennessee Health Department and restaurant owners across the state plan to ask lawmakers to tweak the 1976 law.
Tennessee falls short of federally recommended standards. For example, changing gloves for every piece of food that's handled isn't required in Tennessee. Restaurant owners fear too much regulation may not be good for business.
"I think overall they're not asking a whole lot," said Kooky Canuck Restaurant Owner and Memphis Restaurant Association Treasurer Shawn Danko.
Danko was talking about the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. The Memphis Restaurant Association met Wednesday to talk about updating Tennessee's 1976 food safety law.
"Food safety is top of the list, there's no doubt about it. It's our bread and butter," he said.
Here's the problem: the FDA recommends a "no bare hand contact” rule which means restaurant employees must wear gloves and change them every time they handle anything. Danko believes that'll become problematic.
"It becomes an operational nightmare because you literally have to stand back there and go change gloves, change gloves, change gloves, change gloves."
Updating the Tennessee law would also require sushi chefs to wear gloves. Cooks already do that at Thai Bistro.
"Hands are a big issue to me because your hand is what controls most of the stuff in the restaurant. So just keeping your hands sanitized is what I stress the most to my employees,” said Thai Bistro co-owner Loy Phengprachan.
As the details are hammered out, it'll be up to lawmakers to make the final changes.
"I'm all for it,” said State Representative of Memphis G.A. Hardaway. “I want to know when I go into a restaurant with my family and we sit down, that they're going to come out as healthy as they were when they went in."
The FDA recommendations are only guidelines but unlike Tennessee, several other states already include the "no bare hand contact" rule in their food safety laws.