Can reusable gloves be used in food processing?

By Ronda Johnson | Last updated: August 7, 2018
Presented by Ansell

We're seeing a dramatic and rapid paradigm shift toward reusable products to lessen our impact on the environment. This raises a difficult question: are reusable gloves safe to use in all contexts?

In the food processing industry, gloves serve two purposes: protecting the worker and protecting the food. Since cross-contamination and hygiene are critical issues, reusable gloves are not the best choice for this type of work.

To see why, let's look at a simple example. Suppose a food processing plant employee handles raw meat one moment, and then raw vegetables the next. Cross-contamination between the meat and vegetables is a serious concern, and the worker’s gloves must be completely void of any trace of raw meat when handling the vegetables. The gloves could be washed, but no amount of washing can guarantee that all traces o

f the meat have been removed. The only way to ensure it entirely is for the worker to change gloves altogether.

The effectiveness of washing gloves depends on many factors, and there’s no easy way to tell when a glove is completely clean. In a study in the Journal of Food Protection, researchers found that even with a thorough, time-consuming five step washing process, glove decontamination is never absolute.

So if reusable gloves should not be used in food processing applications, what should?

Vinyl or PVC gloves are the most popular choice, as they as inexpensive and conform to the hand more loosely than materials like latex and nitrile. While vinyl isn’t the most durable of materials, it is deemed suitable to meet food industry standards and a great option for those working in jobs that require food processing or handling.

Presented By

Logo for Ansell

Share this

  • Facebook
  • LinkedIn
  • X

Written by Ronda Johnson | Product Portfolio Manager, North America

Ronda Johnson

Ronda Johnson has a bachelor’s degree in biology from Montclair State University and an MBA from Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey with specializations in business strategy and supply chain management. Ronda has held several positions in research and manufacturing laboratories, including leadership positions for support roles of laboratory functions. Upon completion of her MBA, Ronda decided to merge her life science and business background into a career in sales.

More Q&As from our experts

Term of the Day

Controlled Access Zone

A controlled access zone (CAZ) is an area of a construction site that only certain workers are authorized to access. They…
Read Full Term

Let's Make Workplaces Safer!

Subscribe to the Safeopedia newsletter to stay on top of current industry trends and up-to-date know-how from subject matter authorities. Our comprehensive online resources are dedicated to safety professionals and decision makers like you.

Go back to top