Gloving It!

Clarice Oelofse
 May 14, 2015
Comments (0)
Food Safety

The use of gloves is not a substitute for hand washing - hand washing is the single most effective way to prevent the spread of infections.

In a nutshell - If you are wearing disposable gloves change them regularly, in the same way you would wash your hands regularly if not wearing gloves.The main purpose we use gloves, is to protect the product and the worker. If the gloves are torn or punctured, worn without being changed or sanitized, and the worker’s hands were not washed before donning, then risk is amplified rather than reduced.


Gloves made from either latex, rubber and non-latex materials such as nitrile or vinyl are commonly used in the food industry and do offer added protection, but there are a number of variables that determine their effectiveness.


The pro-glove argument:

  • protect hands from harsh chemicals and hazardous situations
  • protect foods from direct hand contact
  • easier to monitor, audit and enforce than hand washing thoroughness and frequency
  • can be used to cover bandages
  • can improve grip
  • are effective in preventing cross contamination.

Those who argue against glove use point out that it can:

  • limit finger dexterity
  • contaminate foods if not used properly
  • provide a false sense of security
  • encourege poor hygiene practices 
  • have pinhole leaks which permit bacteria to migrate from our hands onto foods;
  • cause skin irritations which discourage proper glove use
  • fall apart
  • introduce foreign matter which may not be detected by conventional methods

Generally, gloves can do more harm than good if not used properly. So to get the benefit of gloves, high 5 the following guidelines:

  • Use gloves designed for the task.
  • Always wash, dry and sanitize hands before donning gloves as well as afterwards. bacteria collect in the perspiration under the gloves
  • Do not apply sanitizer to the outside of a glove once it’s on your hand, unless the glove is designed to be sanitized
  • Change gloves regularly or at least every break following the procedure outlined above
  • Audit the effectiveness of your glove program by regularly swabbing food workers' gloved hands

Sources used:


Facilitators: Richard Jackson & MT Nkosi

Bit of common sense

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