Why wear gloves? They can get contaminated.
They can and they do get contaminated.
BUT wearing gloves, when preparing food, prevents spread of disease.
No matter how diligent we are about washing our hands they are not sterile. If you magnify the skin, you see cracks, ridges of our fingerprints, grooves around the nails etc. Those areas trap bacteria. An NIH published study showed that when hands are washed for 15 seconds over 20% of bacteria remain and even after hands are washed for 2 minutes, over 10% of bacteria remain.
Let’s add to that a recent British study that showed 16% of cell phones are contaminated with stool bacteria even though 95% of the same cell phone owners claim they have thoroughly washed their hands.
Wearing gloves reduces spread of disease and by covering up the remaining bacteria on our skin left there after washing. That is why health care workers and especially those doing surgical procedures use gloves.
Once gloves are on, health care workers know that they need be careful not to contaminate them. Gloves should touch only sterile or clean supplies and instruments. In the surgical arena, gloves should never touch anything below the waist. A strong argument could be made for the same standard in a kitchen.
Extrapolating this to the restaurant, when gloves are worn, the food handler should only touch foods, cooking utensils or surfaces that have been periodically and responsibly sanitized. If the gloved food handler/preparer touches clothing, their face, their hair, cell phones, door nobs, money, the cash register, boxes, containers that have not been sanitized, etc. they should change their gloves. If the gloved food handler leaves the food preparation area, they should replace their gloves with clean gloves upon returning.
Finally, it is an FDA regulation is that there should be no bare hand contact with ready to eat foods. While it is ignored, it is still best practice.
To significantly impact on the spread of disease in the restaurant kitchen, employers and customers must demand hand washing AND use of gloves.