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Hatless Chefs Low Priority for Officials

As fashion becomes more casual, restaurant chefs have moved away from stiff jackets and tall French hats, in some cases abandoning hair restraints all together.


San Francisco Restaurant Critic Michael Bauer made an observation last week about the number of chefs letting their hair down.


chef-hat.jpgAlthough San Francisco health regulations call for “all employees preparing, serving or handling food or utensils… [to] wear a hairnet, cap, or other suitable covering to confine hair,” Bauer says that most chefs simply forget.


Like the comments on Bauer’s site, this issue is also not at the top of public health officials’ lists. “I don’t think we’ve noticed it too much, says Richard Lee, Director of Environmental Health Regulatory Programs at the Department of Public Health. “But this is a low risk violation and we concentrate on high risk violations, such as things that create foodborne illnesses.”


Looking through the 38 high to moderate violations that precede the low risk category–including rodents and cockroaches–lends some valication this nonchalant attitude.


Health inspectors have a shorter timeline when investigating restaurants than do critics who apparently spend more time studying the interiors of restaurant kitchens.


“When health inspectors come into restaurants, it’s a snapshot of what it is at the time. They don’t play big brother or stand over them,” Eileen Shields, Public Information Officer at the Department of Health, told the Appeal.


If the hatless habits of chefs are causing more hairs in food, customers are entitled to make a complaint. Officials would then, “go out there and ask, ‘Are you guys wearing hats or hair restraints?'” Lee told Appeal. But in the end, “it’s not really a high priority,” he said.

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