With the current Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, the effectiveness of your glove’s barrier protection has never been more important to help prevent cross-contamination. Wearing disposable gloves alone does not necessarily prevent the spread of bacteria and viruses. Consideration of the type and quality of your glove, and it’s manufacturing standards will help reduce glove associated cross-contamination risks.
The pandemic has highlighted the need for excellent hand hygiene, but what is the point of this if your hands are covered with cheap and ineffective gloves which fail to provide necessary protection? With food establishments still servicing the community, those focused on glove cost savings may be a threat to the public. Below we discuss essential glove selection and hygiene practices in order to minimise the risks of cross-contamination and illness.
WHICH GLOVES INCREASE CROSS-CONTAMINATION RISKS?
Scientific evidence shows vinyl (PVC) disposable gloves (over other types) are responsible for a majority of cross-contamination events in food handling related to glove use, where disposable glove type is identified.
- Excessive failure rate on donning and usage numerous studies have shown vinyl gloves can begin leaking as soon as they are donned, and have a failure rate of up to 50% with use - ten times the average failure rate of nitrile gloves.
- Pathogen transmission Vinyl gloves are scientifically proven in trials and medical research papers to allow bacteria or virus to pass through micro-tears and holes within minutes of use.
- Increased cross-contamination potential. Contaminants, associated microbes and pathogens, are more easily picked-up and spread over vinyl glove surfaces and anything they touch when compared to nitrile gloves.
Food Grade Gloves
Pinhole glove punctures. Food grade gloves have no guidelines for pinhole defects (AQL) - no guidelines for the number of failures per box. This means micro punctures are unchecked during quality control, or the gloves are rejected examination (medical) grade, leading to potential cross-contamination issues either for the glove wearer or the products handled.
GLOVES TO REDUCE CROSS-CONTAMINATION
Quality Nitrile Gloves
High-quality nitrile gloves provide an essential barrier to protection for food (protecting the consumer) and glove wearers. Here are 4 things to consider when procuring gloves:
- Glove type. Nitrile gloves are the strongest, most durable and provide the best barrier protection against cross-contamination of any glove type available.
- Examination grade gloves. These must-have an acceptable quality level (AQL) of 2.5, meaning gloves to be manufactured with no more than 25 failures for every 1,000 gloves produced.
- Cleanliness. Recent independent testing on new, and unused gloves currently sold to the US food and medical industries, found food-borne illness pathogens, as well as mould, fungus and faeces. The contamination has been linked to unsanitary manufacturing conditions - can you be certain these aren’t your gloves?
- Durability. high-quality raw materials and manufacturing standards produce durable and strong gloves, with minimal ripping, providing the best protection against cross-contamination. New tech gloves can be produced thinner but stronger
- As with any product, differences in nitrile glove quality have been proven. Ask your supplier for their knowledge of raw material and manufacturing standards.
- Beware of cheap imports. Gloves rejected for failing quality standards are often sold cheaply - you may be paying for ripped gloves.
- Only buy from reputable suppliers with proven quality control procedures in place.
Hand Hygiene & Glove Management
Of course correct and effective hand hygiene, along with glove management, is essential for cross-contamination prevention.
- After removing gloves carefully and before donning a new pair, hands must be thoroughly washed with soap and water and well dried.
- Gloves should be changed:
- Every 10 minutes in a busy foodservice situation
- If there are any rips or tears
- When the gloved hand has touched anything other than the ready-to-eat food or associated equipment. Anything outside the immediate food prep zone is a contamination source.
Protecting you and your food from bacteria and viral transfer can be prevented with the use of proven high-quality nitrile gloves.