This summer, California passed Assembly Bill 619 which states that restaurants can allow customers to use their own reusable containers for leftover food.
This seems like a pretty straight forward concept, but there was understandably a big concern for cross contamination. However, the bill addresses these concerns with update procedures: restaurant staff are to isolate the customer’s reusable container from the serving platform or they must sanitize the surfaces in between loading up the containers. Additionally, restaurants must have a written policy for cross-contamination prevention available to inspectors.
And let’s be clear, this does NOT require restaurants to allow customer’s to use their personal containers. Any establishment can still say “no” if they want to. According to Matt Sutton, the senior vice president of government affairs and public policy for the California Restaurant Association, “A restaurant doesn’t have to accept these containers, but if they want to, there’s no responsibility on the restaurant’s part to clean and sanitize them.” (NRN.com 2019).
However, If the restaurant is willing to participate, AB-619 simply clarifies the procedures for handling customer-owned containers that were not previously initiated. So now that handling policies are established, its up to the individual restaurant to decide whether or not they want to allow customer’s to bring their own containers or not. Although hygiene is very important, this isn’t something I’ve personally needed. When I go to restaurants, if there are leftovers, I pack them in my reusable container myself because I don’t like people touching my stuff. No just kidding, it’s because my arms and hands are currently functioning and there’s no need to have someone else pack it up for me. But that’s just me personally.
Question: would it be helpful to start a list of California establishments that do allow reusable containers? If you know of any, tag them below so they can be added to the list.
California Legislative Information: AB-619 Retail food: reusable containers: multiuse utensils