Due to the covid-19 pandemic that we are suffering, the use of gloves has become an element of prevention against the coronavirus, giving us security and some peace of mind. Despite this, food safety experts affirm that it is a false security and are in favor of limiting its use as much as possible and leave it only for specific occasions when its use is justified.
This recommendation may seem strange, but the truth is that, although gloves are a first protection against any pathogenic microorganism, the truth is that the false sense of security that their use gives us can trigger risky behaviors and according to study conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in the United States (@ECDC_EU) (ECDC) reflects that the number of hand washes of people who wear gloves is significantly lower than that of people who do not wear them, which translates into misuse gloves and improper hygiene measures.
And how it was published in the magazine Journal of Food Protection, according to a investigation carried out in 2007, the best gloves are not a substitute for proper hand washingTherefore, improper use of gloves can be as polluting as improper hand washing.
Using gloves in the kitchen
Wearing gloves is not synonymous with the fact that the food to be handled is free from contamination. Like hands, gloves are easily contaminated and contaminating if the appropriate hygiene measures are not carried out.
There are also other risks. Its continued use and sweating that occurs due to the lack of ventilation inside the glove facilitates the proliferation of microorganisms. In fact, the use of gloves carries a greater risk of cross contamination than bare hands since, in some cases, if the gloves, for example, those made of latex that are very thin, tear and previously a good hand hygiene and proper precautions taken, bacteria can contaminate food. This risk increases when wearing rings or slightly long nails.
In which cases the use of gloves is justified
Although we said that it is not advisable to use gloves to handle food, there are some exceptions in which using them is justified to avoid the transmission of diseases. This is the case of wounds, sores and cuts, for example, that can be held on the hands and that can be both a source of entry and exit for pathogens. In this case, it will be necessary to be cautious and follow the recommendations made by AECOSAN in this regard.
- Avoid latex gloves to reduce the risk of allergy to this protein. Vinyl and polyethylene are preferable.
- Ensure that gloves are not transparent or light in color to avoid that if they break any fragment is camouflaged in the food
- Change gloves every time food or activity is changed.
- Do not use under the glove rings, bracelets or watch that could damage the glove.
- Important wash hands thoroughly with soap and water before and after wearing gloves and drying hands well.
- Also, wearing gloves does not mean that you don’t need to wash your hands during the food handling process. Hands must always be clean.
In summary, as recommended by the Spanish Agency for Consumption, Food Safety and Nutrition (AECOSAN) “the most appropriate thing is not to use gloves when handling food and wash your hands as many times as necessary”, that is to say very often.