Law For Food: The law affects what you eat. What you buy to eat affects the law.

Corona, Tongs, Lime.
6 November 2007, 5:22 pm
Filed under: Food Safety, Inspections, Regulation, the-small-laws

In the NYT today there’s an article about how the New York City Health Dept. is cracking down on that scourge of modern life, the bartender who places the lime in your corona bottle with his naked hand.

Now, I understand that the regulations state that ready-to-eat food is to be handled with gloved hands, and I understand why that is a good idea in general, but this seems overzealous to me.

According to the FDA, most bacteria cannot grow in solutions with pH lower than 4.6. Also according to the FDA, limes have a pH of between 2.0 and 2.8.

Any chemists out there care to weigh in on this matter? Is it reasonably safe, from a chemical standpoint, to handle limes with one’s bare hands?

One possibility might be that the inspectors are concerned about foreign material (crumbs, ashes, bits of glass &c.) might find their way into the bottle. I should think, however, that a requirement to wash one’s hands would be less onerous and at least as effective.


3 Comments so far
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That is just insane. I’m definitely with you on this. Food safety is a wonderful thing, but making bartenders wear rubber gloves is just ridiculous. Unless said bartenders are also running a proctology practice back there.
Plus I find it hard to imagine that the NYC Health Department doesn’t have much, much grosser violations to worry about.

Comment by Kei

What’s the pH of the outer portion of a lime rind?–Probably above 2.8. And, whether or not bacteria will grow on the lime, bacteria loves to grow in beer and so the question is whether the lime transports bacteria into the beer rather than whether the lime breeds bacteria itself.

That said, the only real alternative is to provide limes to customers to insert into their own drinks, which would probably be an order of magnitude more dangerous to the bar-going public.

One question: just how is it that limes in a glass bottle are “ready to eat”? Not that it matters, as I’m sure the rule applies to preparing drinks, too.

Another question: would you rather have politicians who write specific exceptions for such things, or have a Health Department that has brains and doesn’t do dumb stuff?

Comment by Jon

Try this instead…it takes care of everyones concerns and it’s fun to use!

Comment by Brian

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