Taking Hand Hygiene Further With Gloves
Friday, November 23rd, 2018
In the food service and processing industries, the wearing of gloves is more than just protection for the hands—they are also highly effective barriers against the transmission of contaminants and harmful bacteria. By Smart Glove Group.
From chefs who don’t wash their hands before cooking, to workers that have exposed wounds and cuts or sneeze and cough when handling and serving food—the food service industry is rife with stomach-churning stories, particularly when it comes to hygiene. In truth, while we often take the cleanliness of the food we eat for granted, the odds are rather high that a worker preparing or handling your food is either sick or hasn’t washed their hands after using the restroom. Barry Michaels, an international scientific consultant on food safety based in Palatka, Florida, cites an alarming number of less than 50 percent of food workers who actually wash after using the restroom!
But good hygiene extends beyond food service to the vast spectrum of other roles involving food handling or processing, including workers handling fish and seafood at the port, to those selling fresh produce at the wet markets, as well as factory workers who prepare the meat before they are packaged and placed on supermarket shelves, plus everyone in between.
In addition to good personal hygiene, one of the highly recommended practices of good hygiene in the food processing and service industry is the wearing of gloves. It is a widely-accepted fact that gloves can effectively act as a final line of defence against bacteria transfer and hence food contamination.
Viruses like Hepatitis A and the highly contagious norovirus are responsible for about 50 percent of all outbreaks of food-related illnesses and are transmitted through foods like leafy greens, fresh fruits and shellfish. Other serious food-borne illnesses caused by bacteria like E. coli, salmonella typhi, shigella and listeria can also be avoided with appropriate hygiene practices, including the discipline of wearing the right gloves.
This is the reason why most establishments in the United States that are involved in large-scale food handling or preparation, such as restaurants, factories, hotels, hospitals, airlines and large-scale caterers, demand that their workers don gloves. In fact, 41 States have adopted the “No-Bare-Hands” food safety rule, requiring food service workers to wear disposable gloves for food preparation, with the aim to reduce the transmission of foodborne illnesses.
In certain types of cuisine, gloves have also become important to avoid the risk of contracting allergies. Sushi chefs, for example, who work with uncooked fish and seafood tend to find gloves particularly useful especially when they encounter customers with specific allergies. By using gloves, chefs can help to ensure that none of the food allergens from one dish is transferred to another by accident.
It goes without saying that customers are also more at ease when they see their food being served by staff wearing gloves, as it conveys a high standard of hygienic practices by the establishment.
However, one of the concerns about gloves, at least among food industry workers who rely on their hands to feel, grip, assess and prepare foods, is that gloves tend to mute the sense of touch and has a perceived reduced dexterity. But with more than 200 varieties of gloves in the market today, it is safe to say that the hand-care industry has moved beyond one-size-fits-all gloves, to customised gloves that are designed specifically to suit different job requirements.
New technology has enabled the production of nitrile gloves that offer consumers a comparable alternative to latex gloves, which are a common cause of skin allergies. At the same time, nitrile is far superior in dexterity, protection and feel compared to the cheaper vinyl or PVC gloves, which does not provide adequate protection against hot or oily food, nor the required dexterity, comfort and movement for the hands.
This is one of the reasons why Malaysian glove manufacturer, Smart Glove Corporation, has channelled tremendous research and development (R&D) dollars into developing an innovative, sustainable yet cost-effective range of nitrile gloves, codenamed the Nitrile S-series Glove, that are custom-made to suit specific job requirements across various industries. The specially designed food-contact Nitrile-2.0 (2 gm/2.2 gm range) glove is one of the main products to have come out from the Nitrile S-series research.
“We have always endeavoured to design gloves that fill current gaps in the market and offer the most competitive solutions for the hand-care industry. Our drive to develop tech-driven and sustainable hand-care solutions has created the Nitrile-2.0 Glove, which is eco-friendly when compared to other gloves out there,” said Mr K.P. Foo, Founder and Executive Chairman of Smart Glove Group.
“In the long run, the Nitrile-2.0 is more durable and cost-effective, and because they are tailored according to the needs of the user, they are also able to provide the best possible dexterity, durability and grip to perform their jobs efficiently. In fact, they are so light and fitting that it will feel like ‘second skin’, and users will barely notice that they are wearing any gloves,” added Mr Foo.
Considered the ‘greenest’ Nitrile in the world, the Nitrile-2.0 Glove consumes about 25-30 percent less resources from the manufacturing, to its handling (logistic) and disposal than its counterparts, resulting in lower environmental impact in the long run. It is also considered the world’s lightest Nitrile glove, being extremely thin and light without compromising on its strength and durability, making it highly suitable for the food service and handling.
To fully reap the benefits of wearing gloves, experts advise adhering to the following practices:
• Wear gloves that are designed for the task
• Always wash, dry and sanitise hands before donning gloves
• Change gloves regularly and ensure that there are no cross-contamination
• Wash your hands after removing gloves or when changing gloves
• Constantly train and reinforce good hand hygiene practices among your restaurant workers and staff
A combination of good personal hygiene, a clean and sanitised workplace as well as wearing the right kind of gloves for the job can go a long way in ensuring that the food service and processing industry upholds the highest standards in good hygiene practices.
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