Why don't we wear disposable gloves?

You may have seen people ask us on our Facebook posts why we don’t wear gloves. Often those asking are those working in the health industry where they have to wear gloves because they are working with human to human contact. It is a belief, that it is better for your food safety, that could actually be harming your food safety and the environment.

In many commercial restaurants (mainly fast food), owners have shifted to having employees wear gloves while working in the kitchen. Several reasons have led to this shift including customers being more comfortable seeing employees wearing gloves. I have been subjected to this same pressure. We do have the occasional person who says they won’t buy because we don’t have gloves on but I am going to explain here why you should want us to wash our hands and not wear gloves.

I have done many Facebook posts on this and also a video you can watch here.

One person said they would buy from us when COVID was over but they wouldn’t buy now because we don’t have gloves on. Sorry, but COVID makes no difference to the high hygiene standards we maintain and have been maintaining for 15 years.

So, are gloves really more sanitary than washing hands?

The answer may surprise you. Generally, when people wear gloves it’s actually less sanitary than when they don’t wear gloves, with the exception of when employees have cuts or open sores on their hands.

A hand-hygiene study was conducted by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and found that hand washing rates were significantly lower when gloves were worn. This is due to the fact that gloves create a false sense of cleanliness, which ultimately leads to gloves being used incorrectly and employees not washing their hands well or as often as they should.

So, if you’re not convinced yet, read on and see all the other reasons why we don’t wear disposable gloves:

  • We are HACCP Certified and are audited annually (since 2006).
  • We follow best practice food safety standards which is to wash and sanitise our hands well and frequently as per those standards and cover our hair (amongst other procedures).
  • Gloves make your hands sweat, generating a massively increased amount of bacteria on hands which is potentially much more dangerous than not wearing gloves. One small hole in a glove that you may not even be able to see and “bam” bacteria are now escaping on your food. No thanks!
  • In the decades I have been in the food industry, I have not worked anywhere where gloves were worn in food prep and I have worked in a wide variety of places, including large Multi-national companies.
  • You will not find real chefs wearing gloves (perhaps for a specific task but in general not).
  • We prefer to be environmentally friendly and not contribute to unnecessary waste when they don’t benefit the safety of our food production.
  • Toxic chemicals are used in the most common gloves used in food prep, vinyl. A report from the US Green Building Councilfound that “the risk of dioxin emissions puts PVC consistently among the worst materials for human health impacts...”
  • International food safety consultant Barry Michaels described vinyl gloves as “infection control nightmares”, that “the best disposable gloves to spread Listeria are cheap vinyl gloves” and that “vinyl gloves possessed triple (3x) the propensity to pick-up and transfer microbial compared to clean hands”.
  • It is claimed that up to 50% of vinyl gloves include plasticisers, which can contain phthalates and BPA. Phthalates have been shown to leach from products into the human body and can easily leach into food, particularly fatty food. Phthalates DiNP and DEHP have been found to adversely impact human health.
  • Contact dermatitis from frequent use of disposable gloves can cause much larger food safety issues if workers have fungal or bacterial infections on their hands caused by wearing gloves. This does not happen when you just wash hands.

As my daughter said to me it may “appear” to be better when people wear gloves but this is not necessarily the case and does depend on each food manufacturer’s circumstances and level of expertise of staff.

We prefer to be honest rather than pretend we wear gloves just for the camera.

I have watched a few videos from other companies making chocolates and, in more than one video, they started with the gloves on and then took them off during the video and handled the food with their bare hands. It would have been better to not have the gloves on in the first place as they should have washed their hands after removing the gloves. However, this is what happens when people are trying to pretend they normally wear gloves for the camera – they forget and do what they normally do. I prefer honesty.

Thus, since food safety experts have determined that wearing disposable gloves actually increases the risk of contaminants in food, we prefer to adhere to their advice.

I must state that we do wear washable clean cotton gloves for handling finished chocolates sometimes but this is primarily to prevent any scuffing of the chocolates. We still wash our hands first and these are not used for any other purposes.

I do understand if there are people who still have a preference for disposable gloves and choose not to buy our delicious chocolates but rest assured that hygiene and safe food are our highest priority. Always has been and always will be.

Cheers Poppy

P.S. There are many articles about this on the net but here are a couple for your reference:

https://cleanersolutions.net/handwashing-vs-gloves-in-commercial-restaurants/

https://www.foodprocessing.com.au/content/processing/article/are-vinyl-gloves-a-food-safety-hazard--245690654