Top Food Code Standard – Glove Use

food preparation with gloves

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.

Must I change my gloves after touching money with gloves on?
While it is difficult to prove that handling money causes illness, customers complain to the local health department if they see food workers using the same gloves to prepare food and handle money. It becomes a PR and food image stain. For food service workers it is best to wash your hands and change gloves after handling money.

Are cooks required to wear gloves?
Yes. It is a critical violation for a cook to touch ready-to-eat foods with bare hands. Wearing disposable gloves meets the standard and reduces the transmission of disease.

When should gloves be replaced or changed?
• Change gloves if the gloves get ripped, torn, or contaminated.
• Change between preparing raw and cooked foods.
• Change after smoking, coughing, sneezing.
• Change after using the bathroom.
Food worker hands must be washed thoroughly and be cleaned before wearing new gloves.

How do I prevent gloves from becoming contaminated?
• When putting the glove on, handle ONLY by the cuff.
• Don’t touch the remainder of the glove.
• Don’t touch any potential contaminated surface with the glove.

As a physician for over 40 years, I know first hand that glove use is a way to prevent transmission of disease. Just like it is expected when health care workers examine patients, it is expected when food service workers touch ready to eat food. Variance from that standard can blemish a food safety image.

In reviewing our Dining Grades database of nearly 3 million health department scores, we have discovered national trends. A subset of that database is the distribution of FDA Food Code top violations. Failure to use gloves when preparing ready-to-eat foods is a top trending violation. To see further reports, claim your restaurant listing.


Author: Dr. Harlan Stueven, MD

Harlan Stueven M.D. is a Board-Certified Emergency physician with sub-specialization in Environmental Toxicology and Board Certification in Medical Toxicology. Starting his career in the USAF, he served as a Flight Surgeon and Environmental Health Consultant Physician where one of his duties was monitoring food safety. In his nearly 40-year practice, he treated a range of medical, surgical and poisoning emergencies. He has been a Medical Director and/or Chairman of several hospital-based Emergency Medicine Departments, served as the President of Emergency and Environmental Medicine consulting group, a physician group Chief Financial Officer and sat on many national, state and local committees. Dr. Stueven founded Dining Grades and the Dining Safety Alliance to improve food safety by increasing awareness of food borne illness and the formation of partnerships within the food industry. He is a consultant to the Wisconsin Retail Food Establishment Grading Work Group; a Co-investigator in a CDC funded “Evaluation of Health Department Restaurant Inspection Programs” project. He has presented at several National, State and Regional conferences on restaurant grading and food safety. He is an accomplished leader, medical researcher, a champion of process improvement, author, and national and international speaker.

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