Selecting Proper Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for Better Food Safety
The human hand is one of the richest environments for bacteria and pathogens. Hand hygiene and food grade gloves are an important part of food safety. It can be tempting to purchase gloves that are inexpensive, but that could put your system at risk. It’s understandable that you want to cut costs. But you have to ask yourself if personal protection equipment (PPE) is the right place to reduce your overhead.
Identifying High-Quality Food Grade Gloves
Although no formal inspection program exists for food service gloves except for the initial certification process to comply with FDA Title 21 CFR Part 177, manufacturers use a rating system called AQL. This stands for Acceptable Quality Level. The manufacturer tests gloves from a production batch and measures the number of defects. You should look for low AQL ratings. An AQL rated 2.0 indicates that there are no more than 20 failures in 1,000 gloves. Medical grade gloves have an AQL of 2.5 or less. It’s recommended that food safety gloves meet or exceed this number.
What Is the Glove Made Of?
Vinyl gloves are often made of materials that have a low price point, such as BPA, Phthalates and other plasticizers that can leach into food. Exposure to BPA and phthalates has been shown to have adverse health effects. Although the amount in gloves that leaches out onto the food or in workers’ skin, PVC gloves are banned in Japan for food handling. Look for gloves that made or impermeable material and don’t include vinyl or BPA.
Check the manufacturing AQL before purchasing gloves. During the manufacturing process, the original materials may be altered due to availability and affordability. Product consistency of batches might be different when the raw materials and processes are not diligently adhered to in each batch. Look for quality products instead of cheap imports.
Handwashing Is Still Vital When Wearing Food Grade Gloves
Food safety gloves, even those with a high AQL rating, can easily break or become punctured. These small holes often go undetected by wearers but allow the bacteria inside the glove to get through to the food. Food service preparers still need to wash their hands routinely and be cautious of cross-contamination when wearing gloves for plant safety.
Always Watch for Ways to Improve Food Safety
Food safety gloves are not designed to replace the procedures in place that prevent food contamination. They are just another layer to food and plant safety. You should monitor the use of gloves to ensure workers are following all policies to reduce the possibility of adverse food events.
Purchase High-Quality Food Grade Gloves Made by a Quality Manufacturer
Shop for PPE, such as food service gloves and other safety items to maintain a high level of quality and cleanliness.