The U.S FDA believes that hand washing with soap & water or even use of alcohol hand sanitizer may not be sufficient to avert transmission of viral & protozoan microorganism via the fecal oral route. In this respect lies advantage of glove use.
There is general debate that food safety managers should reduce bare hand contact when possible, especially with ready-to-eat foods. But, glove usage should be considered whenever utensils or deli /bakery papers don’t work efficiently.
In order to use glove properly, workers must be trained to use gloves properly, but remember that’s just a starting point. Workers and Management simply cannot put blind faith in gloves use, but one must evaluate potential for hygiene failure.
When a failure occurs, both worker and product can be compromised in several ways, and eventually increase risk level.
Did you know?
- A single glove hole can release tens of thousands of bacteria from overly moist internal glove surfaces
- Glove fragment can end up in food
Having said that management need to assess risk associated with occupational and food safety of using right gloves for right task
The 2001 FDA Food Code recognizes that various grades of gloves were available for use by food facilities and considers them to be either multi-use or single –use items.
- The factors like durability, strength and cleanability are the key factors in differentiate multi-use form single-use utensils.
Both Multiple use and single use gloves types are required to be safe for contact with food, and rules do not allow migration of deleterious substances, colors, odors or taste food.
Gloves used in contact with food are covered under Title 210 of the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR). Under 110.0(b) (5), they are required to be maintained in clean, intact and sanitary conditions. The FDA considers it necessary for all food service and food processing gloves to be covered under 21 CFR 177.2600 for repeat contact with food items under indirect food additive regulations. In order to verify FDA status under this regulatory frame work, prolonged two-stage, nine-hour higher temperature chemical extraction testing using water and hexane solvents is required.
Using test results for this stringent testing and chemical component compliance with existing regulations, USDA / FDA status can be determined. Using this approach, your glove supplier should be able to provide a USDA/ FDA letter of guarantee.
Up until the HIV epidemic there were only a few gloves type available to food establishments. There are now more than 200 different type’s consideration material composition, thickness difference, internal treatments, powder types, modulus of elasticity and exterior coating. At the same time allergy problem is one of the driving factor for glove selection today
Due to the variability of food types, handling configurations and risk associated with each facility and finished product, no specific advice can be made. HACCP principles must guide management committees in making responsible risk based decisions that effectively deal with assorted microbial food hazards
Gloves Types detailed:
Polyethylene copolymer gloves are generally the least expensive of all glove type. They are available in high, medium, and low-density forms, which influence various physical properties. Typically loose fitting with a one-size fits all claim, dexterity is lower than that of any other gloves.
While some could argue that the loose fit allow venting of the hand, PE gloves tear quite easily and are not suitable for use around high heat.
Vinyl ( Polyvinyl Chloride), other known as PVC gloves, are consider by some as an acceptable alternative to latex, providing snug fit capabilities and some degree of dexterity. They are more resistant to ozone and oil than natural rubber latex and can be worn around heat sources without risk of melting.
Testing of vinyl has revealed that in some cases they begin leaking as soon as they are donned with stretch or snag on nail edges
Nitrile (Carboxylated butadiene-acrylonitrile) gloves were also developed as a replacement for latex. Like vinyl there are lest elastic than NRL but are significantly more durable. They feature good physical properties and provide the user with good dexterity. Nitrile gloves are resistant to may chemicals but like other glove types are sensitive to alcohol degradation. They have been found to be sensitive to ozone degradation and the elastomers can be somewhat brittle, possessing a higher modulus and greater stiffness than NRL
Natural Rubber Latex is the most commonly available and often among the least expensive of the comfortable, tight- fitting elastic glove types. They offer good dexterity, a snug fit, food tactile sensitivity and can with stand high heat. For these reason, natural rubber latex were considered the gold standard in gloves for many years.
The downside of the material is that many people are now either allergic to latex or to the chemical additives used in the glove making process. Further, the gloves will deteriorate overtime by exposure to oxygen, ozone or UV light and are degraded by oils and solvents such as alcohol
Polyurethane gloves are free of chemical additives other than the pure polymer itself, consisting of polymeric methylene diphenyldiisocynate. These gloves types are head and shoulders above the rest with regard to high tensile strength and durability.
The newer formulations have elongation at break comparable to NRL, making the very comfortable to wear. Polyurethane gloves formulated with LYCRA poly ester are resistant to abrasion, oil and to alcohol deterioration and provide reusability through insitu cleaning and sanitizing
Considering work load:
- Safe working loads for common gloves materials are often exceeded many times per hour in modern food plant environment. For example, the physical integrity of the gloves used in meat processing over the course of a few hours needs to be very high compared to the deli counter
Check for allergic reaction :
- Hand health is extremely important, therefore low or no-allergen gloves recommended
- Tight gloves can restrict dexterity, causes discomfort and hand fatigue
- Loose gloves that don’t have the requisite stretchiness represent a safety hazard to users and also can result in unnecessary fatigue.
- Cumbersome, loose- fitting gloves increase the risk of microbial contamination and transfer
- Prevent excessive sweating by choosing a glove that allows heat dissipation versus gloves that do not
- Glove flexibility and stretch are important determinants of comfort during use
Proper hand washing and glove- changing protocols:
- Even the process of changing gloves is fraught with hazards, because many glove material cause excess moisture build up causing difficult to disinfect contamination from the nail region to spread all over the hand
- Wash hands before and after wearing
- Change gloves properly, each gloves should be grasped in turn at the top of each cuff in a manner peeling the glove inside out
- The choice of powder free
- Powder was originally used to make donning easier with wet or dry hands and as a release agent to remove gloves from molds. This powder can aerosol latex allergens to a point at which they could be inhaled Use of powders had been replaced by a chlorination step. This chlorination aids in the donning process, but also presents potential risk of skin irritation potential and food contamination
- Single –use and Multi-use gloves
- Single-use gloves must be discard when soiled and can’t be use reused
- Multi-use gloves should be washed or sanitized regularly and by reusing them, gain economic, environmental and efficacy advantages
Management or food business operator must aware that the gloves might cause big problems under certain situation with little errors. In order to get benefits of gloves, gloves used in food industry need to be chosen based on their physical properties. It is key that barrier performance, durability, comfort of fit, tactile sensitivity, dermal compatibility and cost- effectiveness fit the task at hand
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