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Disposable Gloves: Guidelines for Food Handlers

Written by Sharon Guthmiller, former SDSU Extension Food Safety Field Specialist.

Improper handling of food and poor personal hygiene by food handlers are leading causes of foodborne illness.

Disposable gloves serve as an additional protective layer to act as a barrier between bare hands and food to help prevent bacterial and viral contamination of equipment, food and utensils. Disposable gloves are a single use item. Disposable gloves do not take the place of good hygiene and proper hand-washing. Gloves should not be used in place of proper hand-washing. Hands should be washed before putting on a new pair and before changing tasks. Gloves should be held by the edge when putting them on. Touch the glove itself as little as possible to prevent contamination.

Disposable Glove Safety Tips

Disposable gloves should:

  • Be approved for food service.
  • Be offered in multiple sizes to accommodate individual hand size.
  • Be offered for latex alternative.
  • Not be washed or rinsed and reused.
  • Be changed frequently.

Disposable gloves should be changed when they:

  • Become soiled or torn.
  • Become contaminated after touching anything that could contaminate food (ie: from sneezing, rubbing nose; touching refrigerator or trash container).
  • If task is interrupted (ie: answering phone, assisting with cash register).
  • After handling raw food (meat, poultry, seafood).
  • Before handling ready to eat food as well as different types of food.
  • Every 4 hours when working at same task.

FACT: Improper use of gloves can pose as much of a problem in causing foodborne illness by transporting bacteria and viruses as hands that have not been properly washed. Proper use of gloves is essential to preparing and serving food safely.

For more information about using gloves, contact AnswerLine at 1-888-393-6336.