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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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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