Gloves play an essential role in food safety. Used correctly, they can prevent many foodborne illnesses. They prevent bare-hand contact with food by providing a barrier between your hands and the food you prepare. If used incorrectly, they can harbor dangerous pathogens and spread many diseases.
Before donning a new pair of single-use disposable gloves, always wash your hands. If you forget to wash your hands, your gloves may become contaminated with the pathogens that were on your hands. Remember to be careful when putting on your gloves. Touch the gloves by the cuff, or opening, of the glove to help keep your gloves free from contamination.
Knowing how and when to change your gloves can help you become a food safety proponent. Here is a list of four times you should always change your gloves:
1. Change Gloves When Switching Tasks
You should always wash your hands and change your gloves when switching tasks, taking out the garbage, or after coming back from a break.
For example, if you have been chopping raw chicken, but will now be slicing vegetables and forgot to change your gloves, the pathogens from the raw chicken will now be transferred to the vegetables.
To prevent this from happening, wash your hands and put on a new pair of gloves. Easy as that!
2. When Gloves are Torn or Dirty
When your gloves become torn, there is a chance that you could accidentally touch ready-to-eat foods with your bare hands. Because our hands are covered in germs, bare-hand contact with food can be dangerous.
If you see any holes or tears in your disposable gloves, throw them away, wash your hands, and put on a new pair. You should also change your gloves if you notice that they are dirty.
3. After 4 Continuous Hours
Bacteria and viruses can grow to dangerous levels if allowed. If your gloves haven’t become torn or dirty, the FDA recommends washing hands and putting on new gloves after 4 hours of continuous use.
After 4 hours, pathogens could spread and contaminate the food you are working on. Remember to keep in mind how long you have been working on one task and change your gloves at the appropriate time.
4. After Touching Your Hair or Face
You have germs all over your body and may accidentally brush a hair out of your face or scratch an itch on your arm. Keep in mind that anything you touch with your gloves could contaminate them.
If you do end up touching your hair, face, or other parts of your body, remember to wash your hands and put on new gloves before continuing to prepare food.
In addition to these, you should change your gloves anytime you think your gloves might be contaminated. Keeping your gloves as clean as possible and in good condition will help keep you and your customers safe. For more information or other food safety tips, visit StateFoodSafety.com.