Section 2-303.11 of the FDA Food Code:
Items of jewelry such as rings, bracelets, and watches may collect soil and the construction of the jewelry may hinder routine cleaning. As a result, the jewelry may act as a reservoir of pathogenic organisms transmissible through food.
The term "jewelry" generally refers to the ornaments worn for personal adornment and medical alert bracelets do not fit this definition. However, the wearing of such bracelets carries the same potential for transmitting disease-causing organisms to food. If a food worker wears a medical alert or medical information bracelet, the conflict between this need and the Food Code's requirements can be resolved through reasonable accommodation in accordance with the Americans with Disabilities Act. The person in charge should discuss the Food Code requirement with the employee and together they can work out an acceptable alternative to a bracelet. For example, the medical alert information could be worn in the form of a necklace or anklet to provide the necessary medical information without posing a risk to food. Alternatives to medical alert bracelets are available through a number of different companies (e.g., an internet search using the term "medical alert jewelry" leads to numerous suppliers).
An additional hazard associated with jewelry is the possibility that pieces of the item or the whole item itself may fall into the food being prepared. Hard foreign objects in food may cause medical problems for consumers, such as chipped and/or broken teeth and internal cuts and lesions."
What is a reasonable accommodation?
A reasonable accommodation is a change to the job application process, in the way a job is done, or to other parts of the job (like employer-sponsored training, benefits, or social events), that enables a person with a disability to have equal employment opportunities.
Example 12: Jacob applies for a kitchen job, is qualified, and is given a conditional offer. Jacob discloses that he is diabetic and wears a medical-alert bracelet. The restaurant manager knows that section 2-303.11 of the FDA Food Code prohibits employees involved in food preparation from wearing jewelry on their arms and hands, including medical-alert bracelets. As a reasonable accommodation, the manager should allow Jacob to wear the medical-alert tag as a necklace.
For information and technical assistance about the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) contact the ADA Information Line
ADA Specialists are available to provide ADA information and answers to technical questions on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Friday from 10:30 a.m. until 4:30 p.m. or on Thursday from 12:30 p.m. until 4:30 p.m. (Eastern Time).
FDA Food Code 2009: Annex 3 - Public Health Reasons / Administrative Guidelines - Chapter 2, Management and Personnel >>> http://www.fda.gov/Food/FoodSafety/RetailFoodProtection/FoodCode/FoodCode2009/ucm189171.htm
Americans with Disabilities Act >>> http://www.ada.gov/
How to Comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act: A Guide for Restaurants and Other Food Service Employers >>> http://www.eeoc.gov/facts/restaurant_guide.html