Contaminated Gloves Can Cause Food Borne Illness

In the last three blogs, I discussed what the movie “Contagion” can teach us about the anatomy of food borne illness epidemics, how proper gloves use is important in the prevention of food borne illness and not all gloves are equal. Now, let’s prevent cross contamination.

In healthcare, we put gloves on a certain way, protect the glove from touching anything that could be contaminated, watch for leaks and take the glove off so as not to contaminate ourselves. All techniques are applicable to food safety.

Handle the glove and put it on and use them so as not to contaminate the gloves.

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Not All Gloves are Equal and it Matters in Food Safety

In last blog I discussed the importance of using gloves when handling ready to eat food.

During my medical practice of nearly 40 years, I became very familiar with the use of gloves. Not all gloves are equal. Reflecting on that experience, it is clear to me that the choice of glove matters in food safety.

For most of my medical career, I used the industry standard powdered latex glove. But over the last decade of my practice, I developed a latex allergy, as have a significant number of other health care workers and the general public.


“According to the American Latex Allergy Association
8-17% of healthcare workers and … 1% of the general public in the US. … equals about 3 million people” (have a latex allergy).

 Most health care facilities have quit using latex gloves.

Powdered latex gloves should never be used in food preparation.

I have seen disposable plastic polyethylene gloves used in food service. imagesWhile they may be cheap, easy to put on and are a ‘one size fits’ all, there really is a very limited use for this type of glove. Primarily because of its easy fit, sweat and bacteria are not contained. Perhaps its most practical use is for a counter server who needs a single use protective barrier, picking up an item and immediately putting it on a plate or in a bag.

Plastic polyethylene gloves should optimally be used by food servers for single use.

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Proper Glove Use Will Reduce Food Borne Illness

The Critical FDA Food Code item #9 that is associated with an increased risk of food borne illness is failure to use gloves when preparing ready to eat foods (RTE).

How do you feel when you notice the cook or server is touching your RTE food without gloves?

A turn off, isn’t it? It also increases the risk of transmitting disease.

Imagine a dentist putting his/her hands in your mouth without using gloves. Would you ask him/her to put on gloves? When food service workers touch RTE foods without using gloves, they are literally putting their fingers into the customer’s mouth. Just like dentists, food service workers are entrusted with the public health. Glove use when serving RTE foods is critically important to reducing
food borne illness.

restaurant plating

“The spread of germs from the hands of food workers to food is an important cause of foodborne illness outbreaks in restaurants and accounts for 89% of outbreaks.”

 Are food preparers or food servers then required to wear gloves?

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Top Food Code Standard – Glove Use

The Critical FDA Food Code item #9 that is associated with an increased risk of food borne illness is failure to use gloves when preparing ready-to-eat foods (RTE).

When food service workers touch RTE foods without using gloves, they are essentially putting their fingers into the customer’s mouth. Just like dentists, food service workers are entrusted with the public health, making glove use when serving RTE foods critical.

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How Do Food Handlers Rate Their Own Food Safety Practices?

 

Risky food preparation practices were commonly reported by food service workers and reported in a study conducted by Environmental Health Specialists at the State and Federal level.

When asked key hygiene questions, food workers said that at work: Continue reading “How Do Food Handlers Rate Their Own Food Safety Practices?”

What do Food Poisoning Epidemics Have in Common?

What do Food Poisoning Epidemics Have in Common?

In my last blog, I discussed restaurant chains that have gained notoriety for their alleged food poisoning outbreaks. Is there a common thread?

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Dirty hands are everywhere

Dirty hands are everywhere. We touch our hair, our nose or other body parts. We use the bathroom and casually wash our hands. We touch door nobs, handrails, light switches and money, never really thinking about who touched it last. We shake hands or share community bowls of popcorn and wonder how we got sick.

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How Do Food Handlers Rate Their Own Food Safety Practices?

 

Risky food preparation practices were commonly reported by food service workers and reported in a study conducted by Environmental Health Specialists at the State and Federal level.

Continue reading “How Do Food Handlers Rate Their Own Food Safety Practices?”

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