PITTSBURGH -- Allegheny County Health Department spokesperson Guillermo Cole has issued a citation to WQED Cooks’ Chris Fennimore for not wearing proper protective gear over his hirsute knuckles.
Under Pennsylvania health code 46.152, food handlers, including those who prepare food for consumption on television shows, must take proper prophylactic measures to prevent hair from coming into contact with exposed food.
“Consumers are under the misperception -- and we can thank school lunch ladies for this -- that the use of nets is just for hair the head, but the directive applies to any body part where hair is long enough to be a safety hazard, whether it be the knuckles, the back, or the nose,” according to Cole.
“As a matter of fact, the ‘beard restraint’ is another hairy issue we’re cracking down on, but there are so many styles of facial growth nowadays that we’re having trouble enforcing the code, because people are getting off on technicalities. How can you penalize a man with a soul patch when a post-menopausal mustache may actually pose more of a health concern?”
Fennimore defended his practices, saying that he grooms his hands with a boar bristle brush and removes any loose hairs before the taping of each show, and during commercial breaks.
He questions the timing of the citation, claiming the department is once again trying to thwart bad publicity for its annual flu shot fiasco. “They’re just splitting hairs here,” said Fennimore. “Wouldn’t their limited resources be better spent shutting down Chinese Buffets?”
Nancy Polinsky, Fennimore’s cohost on the PBS show noted for its local recipes and many guest appearances from hometown cooks, had only this to say: “Mmm …. “
Fennimore has ten days to either shave his knuckles or wear what those in the industry refer to as “the knuckle net.”