Food Service Gloves

People who work in the food and beverage industry use disposable gloves on a regular basis to prevent the spread of germs and keep consumables from becoming contaminated. But what many food service workers don’t realize is that some types of disposable gloves are more suited to their line of work than others. Today we’ll discuss the requirements surrounding glove use in food service industries, reasons why its important to wear them, and differences between the glove types.

The Law:

According to the National Restaurant Association’s COVID-19 Operating Guidance: 

“Operators should train employees on the importance of frequent hand washing, the use of hand sanitizers with at least 60% alcohol content, and teach them to avoid touching their faces, whether gloved or bare-handed. Gloves should be worn when staff members handle ready-to-eat foods, but they don’t need to be worn when employees handle ready-to-eat ingredients for dishes that will be cooked to their correct internal temperature.”


FDA Food Code 2009 states:

  • Employees may not touch ready-to-eat foods with bare hands
  • Wearing gloves is not a substitute for proper hand washing
  • Gloves should be changed often
  • Glove should be worn for a single task

The Hazards:

The most commonly cited use for disposable gloves in the kitchen is to provide protection from foodborne illnesses. Over fifteen years ago, the National Advisory Committee on Microbiological Criteria for Foods concluded that bare hand contact with food contributes greatly to the transmission of foodborne illness. “Restroom germs” such as E. coli, Staphylococcus, Giardia, Hepatitis A, Norovirus, and Shigella can be transmitted from hands to food. Cross-contamination can also occur, transferring pathogens such as salmonella.

CDC estimates 48 million people get sick, 128,000 are hospitalized, and 3,000 die from foodborne diseases each year in the United States. Almost half of reported foodborne illness outbreaks in the United States occur in restaurant settings. 

In addition to protecting staff members and customers from food borne illnesses, gloves also protect kitchen staff  from burning their hands when cutting spicy foods, such as jalapeno peppers. They keep acidic juices out of cuts on your hands and protect your nails too. Furthermore, some glove materials can prevent knife injuries when prepping foods. 

Since gloves can become contaminated very easily, they must be changed often. They may only be used for one task and must be discarded if damaged or if the worker is interrupted during their task. If a worker is performing the same task, the gloves must be changed every four hours because that’s long enough for pathogens to multiply to dangerous levels. Anytime the gloves become contaminated, they must be changed. This includes if a worker simply touches a part of their exposed skin, or if they perform a task such as taking out the garbage.

The Gloves:

Polyethylene, vinyl, and nitrile are all appropriate materials for food prep gloves. 

Poly is a good material if you need to change gloves often and for food prep tasks that don’t require a high level of dexterity. Meanwhile, vinyl is ideal for tasks that require more fingertip sensitivity and overall durability. Powder-free vinyl gloves work well for single uses. Legacy Medical Sales carries a variety of vinyl gloves, including Gloveworks brand. These disposable gloves provide high levels of comfort, dexterity, and tactile sensitivity keeping your business running safely and smoothly. Nitrile gloves are strong, durable and puncture-resistant to protect the food from contact with employees. You have to pick gloves that protect food from employees’ hands, but you also have to consider whether the glove itself will contaminate the substance, nitrile has you covered on both. Our Ammex nitrile gloves provide strength, dexterity, comfort, and value, all in one industry-standard disposable glove.

Check out our selection of gloves:

Gloves play a significant role in the food services industry, not only in the fight against food borne illnesses but also to protect workers against injury. Legacy Medical Sales has a variety of options to keep your employees safe, your customers healthy, your business operating within the law. Not sure which glove is the best “fit” for your workplace? Simply contact us at or call 800-446-7310 and we will work with you on a custom solution.