TGPR Food Issues Group Meets With Sushi Chef Institute
to Discuss California Glove Law Jeff Nelken

TGPR’s Food Issues Group partner and food safety expert Jeff Nelken was asked to set up a sushi demonstration at the Sushi Chef Institute in Torrance, CA. It’s part of our outreach to support the Health Department’s education on the fine points of sushi and evaluate the use of gloves when preparing sushi. Our long working relationship with them allows for an exchange of ideas and the ability to help restaurant owners navigate sensitive food safety issues. The demonstration helped the Los Angeles Health Department see the distinctive way sushi is prepared. Jeff (left) met with James Dragan, Chief Environmental Specialist, Consultative Services, during this positive and supportive educational session.

Chefs, food workers and bartenders are now required to wear gloves for doing everything from making sushi to putting olives in your cocktails. When the new glove law passed January 1, sushi chefs were up in arms (and gloves) because they claim that the law interferes with their thousand of years of preparing sushi with bare hands. In response to many complaints, Dr. Richard Pan, chair of Assembly Health Committee (D-Sacramento), announced emergency legislation (AB 2130) that would repeal the section of the Retail Food Code prohibiting bare-hand contact with food.

Jeff Nelken, a food safety expert and member of the Food Issue Group at Tellem Grody PR, is an expert on the law and preventing foodborne illness. FIG is a clearing house for those seeking help in understanding how to cope with the no bare hand contact with ready-to-eat foods. He is available to comment on Assembly bill 1252 which added section 113961 to the California Retail Food Code (CalCode). It prohibits bare hand contact with ready-to-eat food, and became effective January 1, 2014.

No Bare Hand Contact is the practice of preventing direct contact with bare hands while handling ready-to-eat foods. Hand washing alone is not enough to prevent foodborne illnesses, and that food service employees are the source of contamination in more than two-thirds of the foodborne outbreaks reported in the US with a bacterial or viral cause.

According to the CDC, “Recent studies indicate that handwashing alone is not enough to prevent foodborne illnesses and that food service employees are the source of contamination in more than two thirds of the foodborne outbreaks reported in the United States with a bacterial or viral cause. The CDC estimates that each year roughly 1 in 6 Americans (or 48 million people) get sick, 128,000 are hospitalized, and 3,000 die of foodborne diseases. It’s common knowledge that foodborne illnesses contracted at restaurants are underreported. Many people think that just have the flu when they vomit and get diarrhea.

Also significant:

  • Spanish was the primary language of 58% of food workers but only 41% of managers could speak Spanish.
  • Floor cleaning policies existed in 95% of establishments, but only 37% of these policies were written.
  • Fewer establishments had policies on cleaning of food contact surfaces (88%), cutting boards (89%), and food slicers (72%).

For more information, contact Susan Tellem, APR, RN, BSN at 310-313-3444 x1 or email Posted in News Tellem Grody PR Observes 10th Anniversary of Food Issues Group

Jeff Nelken, M.A., RD and Susan Tellem Tellem Grody Public Relations, Inc. (TGPR), a public relations and social media marketing agency is observing the 10th anniversary of its Food Issues Group (FIG). Ten years ago, the agency partnered with Jeff Nelken, M.A., RD (retired), an experienced professional in all aspects of food safety and inspection to add another dimension to its crisis and health care practices. The TGPR arm offers PR and social media support, including consumer education, videos and crisis preparedness and management. Under Nelken’s consultancy (, he offers food safety training for restaurants, food defense education, litigation support and Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP) plan development. Restaurants, theme parks, casinos, corporate cafeterias, schools, manufacturers and distributors all benefit from the services offered.

According to TGPR Partner and health care expert Susan Tellem, APR, RN, BSN, “During the past 10 years, much has changed in the food safety world. With the advent of social media, word about recalls and food poisoning can spread quickly and efficiently. Social media can also trigger a crisis for a food supplier. News gets out in five minutes where it used to take five days, so crisis management help is critical. We’ve helped restaurants, food distributors and other entities protect both consumers and their brands.”

Nelken, who just returned from Texas where he served as an expert witness for a poisoning case, has worked in the food industry for more than 30 years. He is famous for accompanying reporters on investigative journeys in the dark reaches of restaurant kitchens. According to Nelken, “Food safety is a burgeoning area that is highly important to every individual.” He adds, “Food borne illness, especially in the home during holidays and warm summer months, are under-reported, so providing widespread basic information can help prevent it. With the growth in fast food restaurants and fast casual places, safe food handling has become even more important.”

For more information, visit, call 310-313-3444 x1 or