What You Need to Know When It Comes to Surgical Gloves for Food Handling
Should You Wear Surgical Gloves When You're Handling Food?
This pandemic has very well taught us what a mere' touch can do! The last two years saw the entire globe washing and sanitizing hands and surfaces multiple times a day. The right phrase would be obsessed. Yes, we all had become obsessed with sanitizing hands and every other thing from a door handle and TV remote to even table of the restaurant we visited, just to be extra sure as COVID cases multiplied every day.
When so much attention was being paid to things that we only touched, imagine how we must have treated food we eat! Undoubtedly, the kitchen is the most sensitive area at our homes, pandemic or not. It directly decides what goes inside our stomachsnutrients or germs.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) stated, Food can become contaminated at any point of production and distribution, and the primary responsibility lies with food producers. Yet a large proportion of foodborne disease incidents are caused by foods improperly prepared or mishandled at home, in food service establishments or at markets.
The best part is these foodborne illnesses can be easily prevented by maintain hygiene during every single stage of food handling from food preparation to food processing . Wearing gloves prevents direct contact with food, thus minimizing cross-contamination. The entire food industry uses disposable gloves to prevent the risk of foodborne illness, ensuring food safety .
Now, there are different types of gloves for health industry or food industry , depending on the nature of the business. There are mainly two types of medical gloves surgical gloves and examination grade gloves.
Since surgical gloves are sterile, they are mainly used by healthcare professionals who come in contact with the blood and infections. However, examination grade gloves like Nitrile gloves can be used for workers in the food industry , during food handling , food preparation or food processing .
The Basics of Surgical Gloves for Food Handling
Food grade gloves are made of materials that are generally considered safe for use with food. Nitrile gloves , also categorized as examination graded gloves , top this list. The main reason why Nitrile gloves are considered best for food service staff during food handling is because it is strong and free from additives and contaminants.
Even the most careful person can make a mistake in the kitchen.
You don’t want to use your bare hands to handle food and you don’t want to wear gloves that are too thick and bulky.
Benefits of Gloves for Food Handling
Irrespective of how many times you wash hands, there is always some amount of germs left trapped around your nails and in the ridges of your fingerprints. Yes, they might not be visible to naked eye, but they are there.
Dr Harlan Stueven (MD), in one of his blogs on Food Safety , cited an HIH study that showed thatwhen 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.
To add further, Dr Stueven further quoted a 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.
No wonder why the United States Food and Drug Administration (US FDA) requires that no bare hands should touch the ready-to-eat foods. It is advised that staff responsible for food prep or food processing or any stage of food handling in the food industry should use disposable gloves .
Gloves cut off the direct contact between the food workers' handswhich might be contaminated, and the food. As a result, these disposable gloves help in passing on the germs, restricting the spread of foodborne illness.
Besides protecting you from bacteria or foodborne diseases, Nitrile gloves protect your hands from minor cuts as they are made of strong material. For the staff who has a cut in hand and is involved in direct food prep like marinade , wearing Nitrile Exam gloves can prevent the food from infection. At the same time, it was also prohibit the spice and acids in the marinade from entering the cut, thus preventing them from further burn and inconvenience.
Wearing examination grade gloves like Nitrile gloves , Latex gloves or Vinyl gloves also prevents hands from strong smells like seafood and garlic.
A restaurant or any food service establishment has to deal with a variety of foods. Raw meat is said to be highly vulnerable to bacteria. Thus, using distinct pairs of gloves while handling vegetarian and non-vegetarian food can cut down the risk of cross-contamination.
Tips for Selecting the Right Surgical Gloves for Food Handling
1. See if your disposable gloves are oil, fats and moisture resistant
2. Staff in food service sector or food Management System has to wear gloves most of the time, so make sure they are affordable.
3. Make sure food handling gloves fit well, else there is a chance they might not be able to contain bacteria.
For more food safety tips , you can go to Centers Disease Control an Prevention.
Types of Surgical Gloves for Food Handling
There are several kinds of gloves, however not all are food handling gloves .
1. Latex Gloves -Latex gloves are relatively cheap and have excellent elasticity and tear resistance. Latex gloves are resistant to fats and oil. However, as per the American Latex Allergy Association, a little less than 1% of the general public in the US that equals to about 3 million people, have latex allergy. This is the reason some states have banned the use of latex gloves .
2. Nitrile Gloves -Nitrile gloves are said to be the optimal choice for food handlers . Nitrile gloves fit well and easy to work with. And because they are well fitted, nitrile gloves are able to prevent bacteria and sweat.
3. Vinyl gloves -These are ideal food handlers with sensitive skin. However, Vinyl gloves are low mechanical resistance and lose elasticity over time.
4. Powdered gloves -The powder helps reduce friction and sticking in the gloves. However, it contains cornstarch and not ideal for use during Food Prep , Food Management or food processing.
5.Powder free gloves -The best thing about powder free gloves is they do not leave residue on the food handler's gloves. Powder free gloves are a basic necessity in healthcare and food industry .
These gloves are not just for people - they’re also for food!
The question is, do you know the best type of gloves to use?
Use Caution When Selecting Surgical Gloves for Food Handling
- Examination grade gloves like Nitrile gloves have to meet several technical parameters prescribe by the FDA. These gloves used in food industry or healthcare sector are checked for punctures and abrasion resistance.
- An AQL (Acceptable Quality Level) of 2.5 is accepted. And since there is no AQL prescribed for the food handling gloves , it is better to use medical examination graded gloves to prevent foodborne diseases.
- Change disposable gloves every 90 to 150 minutes.
Conclusion on Food handling gloves
Every glove has its own purpose, depending on which they are designed. Remember, not all medical gloves can be used as food handling gloves . Gloves used in surgeries cannot be used during food prep. Though, examination grade gloves like latex nitrile and vinyl gloves can be used during food prep , they do come in sub-categories. Read through the box and the website as not all are food safe .
After all, germ-free food is the Safe Food .
Working with food can be a messy job.
Gloves are supposed to protect you from the mess, but they can also make it worse.