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Are Disposable Gloves A Source Of Food-Borne Illness?

The results of a five-year study were recently released, and they revealed the widespread risk of contamination in the disposable glove industry.

In the testing of 26 different brands of new gloves (right out of unopened boxes), they found that 50 percent of these gloves had indications of human fecal contamination. In addition, they found traces of other food-borne pathogens, including Listeria moncytogenes, Staphylococcus aureus, Streptococcus pneumoniae, and Bacillus anthracis (Anthrax). Over 250 different viable microbial species were found, in or on these gloves!

It may surprise you, but the Food and Drug Administration does not subject these disposable gloves to strict monitoring. The FDA Food Code for disposable gloves doesn’t even specify that the gloves need to be intact, sanitary, or to be routinely tested upon arrival in the U.S.

To solve this problem, they will have to go all the way back to the manufacturing stage and start investigating. What are the actual products being used to make these gloves, and what is their rate of purity? What are the sanitation conditions like in these plants? Are the workers who make these products doing their part to keep us safe? Are they even washing their hands before they make and package these gloves?

Ladies and gentlemen, we all should appreciate seeing the employees at our restaurants wearing gloves when they prepare and serve our food. But if they are putting on a pair of contaminated gloves, could they be making things even more unsafe for us? Maybe it is time for those in the food business to start insisting on using gloves from vendors with high manufacturing standards, quality control measures, offer routine product audits, and who have a commitment to reducing the risk of cross-contamination. Stay safe!