Gloves in the Food Industry

An introduction from Martin Stone – Global Technical Director, HACCP International

With hand hygiene, or the lack of it, being considered one of the most important contributing factors in food poisoning incidents, gloves play a very important part in many food handling processes and are a vital tool in controlling food safety risk. Gloves can provide an important physical barrier between a food handler and the food to be consumed.  By extension, they serve to protect the food business, its customers, and its reputation. That alone should make product selection an important purchasing decision!

A ‘food-safe’ glove is not just about food contact material (e.g. EU1935) – too many buyers only look to this characteristic. Obviously, the material itself is a major component but others matters are vital too. Relying on material qualities alone is a start – but it’s just not sufficient in such key products. There are many characteristics to be considered when assessing what type, and which make, of glove is appropriate for what task. HACCP Internationals’ white paper on the subject will be useful in this.

HACCP International’s certification requires much broader compliance and considers those additional characteristics described in the white paper through the evaluation process. Gloves carrying the HACCP International certification mark are fit for purpose in every respect. As we say in our advertisements ‘No ifs, no buts!’ It is either totally fit for purpose or it isn’t!’

Karen Constable and Heloise Lam at HACCP International are to be commended for their work on this white paper – we are proud to have them on staff. A world first and valuable reference document for everyone in the industry.

Gloves are widely used in the food industry.  Almost every food service or food manufacturing facility has gloves on site.  Hundreds of thousands of gloves are used by the global food industry every year.

Within the food industry, a major reason for glove use is for preventing hand contact with food or food contact surfaces.  But gloves are used for other reasons as well.  They are used to protect workers from injury and contamination and to provide comfort and protection from heat, cold and moisture.

Whatever the reason for using gloves, it is important for food businesses to select gloves carefully and use them correctly. There is a bewildering array of gloves to choose from; single use, reusable gloves, cut-proof gloves.  Each of these can be manufactured from many different types of materials.

Gloves that will be in contact with food, or be used in food facilities, must be food-safe and well-designed so they perform as expected without contaminating food.

This white paper considers the various use-cases for gloves in the food industry; both in food service and in food manufacturing sectors. It dives into the food safety benefits and risks associated with using gloves and it provides advice on the proper selection and use of gloves.

The 25-page white paper also contains a glossary of glove-related terms, plus references to all research papers cited.

Gloves in the Food Industry; A White Paper

Table of Contents


Section 1 Why Does the Food Industry Use Gloves?

Gloves are used to protect food from contamination, to comply with food laws and to protect workers.  Regulations and laws for bare hand contact and glove use are discussed.

Section 2 Benefits and Problems Associated with Glove Use in the Food Industry

This section includes a discussion of observational studies related to glove-wearing compliance and food contamination, as well as researchers’ comments about the psychological effects of wearing gloves and their impact on worker behaviour.

Section 3 How to Use Gloves Properly

Proper glove use is vital for protecting food from contamination.  This section has best practice guidelines for storing, cleaning and using gloves in food manufacturing and food service settings.

3.1 Gloves for handling ready-to-eat food

3.2 Reusable gloves for food handling

3.3 Reusable gloves; other uses in the food industry

3.4 How to store gloves

3.5 How to clean and sanitise gloves

Section 4 Glove Selection

4.1 What is a food-safe glove?

4.2 Materials of composition and design criteria

4.2.1 Vinyl (PVC)

4.2.2 Latex

4.2.3 Nitrile

4.2.4 Polyethylene

4.2.5 Hybrid polymers

4.2.6 Textile

4.2.7 Metal Mesh

4.2.8 Pigments and printing inks

4.2.9 Sterile vs Non-sterile Gloves

4.2.10 Donning Powder

4.2.11 Scents

4.2.12 Shape, thickness and surface textures

4.3 Chemical migration characteristics

4.4 Manufacturing and packing processes

4.5 Packaging configuration

4.6 Product traceability and other information for users

Section 5 HACCP International’s Certification of Gloves

HACCP International certifies certain disposable and reusable gloves as food-safe and suitable for food handling in operations governed by a HACCP based food safety programme.

This section briefly summarises HACCP International’s evaluation process, which extends beyond a consideration of material components and chemical migration characteristics.



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