Are Food Service Gloves Really Food Safe?

September 11, 2017
Powedered Gloves in Use

WHY MEDICAL GRADE DISPOSABLE GLOVES ARE ESSENTIAL FOR FOOD SAFETY

Medical examination grade disposable gloves are produced for non-surgical medical procedures. However, because of their superior quality, examination gloves are now being used in many other industries, including food processing and handling.

WHAT IS A MEDICAL EXAMINATION GRADE DISPOSABLE GLOVE?

Medical examination grade gloves have to pass a series of technical tests in order to meet the safety requirements specified by the FDA. Gloves are tested for puncture and abrasion resistance, must meet tension and elongation tests and are also tested for chemical substance resistance. Manufacturers of these gloves must receive an FDA Title 21 (510k) approved for medical use certification.

Medical examination grade gloves must also have an AQL of 2.5 or less.

WHY IS AQL IMPORTANT?

The AQL of a disposable glove is the "Acceptable Quality Level" and refers to a quality standard for measuring pin-hole defects. Glove manufacturers test a random sample of gloves from a batch during initial production and test for subsequent pin-hole defects.

The lower the AQL, the fewer defects the gloves have. An AQL of 1.5, for example, requires that gloves be manufactured with no more than 15 failures for every 1,000 gloves produced. 

ARE FOOD SERVICE GLOVES FOOD SAFE?

In comparison, no formal government regulations or inspection program exists for food service gloves. The only requirements are that the components of the glove comply with the FDA regulations and the gloves consist of “Substances generally recognized as safe for use in food or food packaging.” They only have to have an FDA (21 CFR 177) compliant for food handling certification.

There is no AQL requirement for food service gloves, meaning there are no guidelines for maximum pin-hole defects - no guidelines for the number of failures per box.

WHY USE MEDICAL EXAMINATION GRADE GLOVES IN FOOD PROCESSING?

The answer to this is simple - to enhance your food safety programs and for the prevention of food-borne illnesses.  

It is estimated that around 90% of all disposable glove perforations during use go unnoticed or undetected. Consider that the human skin is a rich environment for microbes consisting of around 1000 species, and the skin surface of human hands can contain on average from 2 million to 10 million microorganisms.

Organisms can become resident colonizers on hands, and combined with a glove puncture, what has been described as a “liquid bridge” of microbial contamination can flow to contact surfaces of food.

Therefore, when purchasing your food handling gloves it is imperative to know the AQL. The lower the AQL, number the higher the quality of barrier protection you will have for your hands and your food. 

WHAT YOU NEED TO CONSIDER WHEN PROCURING YOUR DISPOSABLE GLOVES FOR FOOD HANDLING:

  1. Know the AQL test results - do you know how many glove defects your disposable gloves have?
  2. Only choose disposable gloves that have an AQL of 2.5 or less - pay for gloves that are suitable for food handling
  3. Beware of cheap imports which may be rejected clearance lines - you may be paying for glove failures and the potential spread of bacteria and virus
  4. Only buy from reputable suppliers with quality control procedures in place
  5. Protecting your food from bacteria and viral transfer from a gloved hand is essential. Foodborne illnesses can financially cripple any food handling business found to have spread the disease. Are you willing to take this chance with inferior gloves?

Eagle Protect supplies responsibly sourced disposable gloves, which exceed AQL requirements, providing your workers and your food with a superior quality of barrier protection against bacteria and virus.

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Tags: Food Safety