Best Disposable Gloves for Restaurants and Foodservice Work
Like it or not, gloves have always been a necessity in the foodservice business. Not only do gloves help to ensure the hygienic and safe handling of food to keep end-consumers from getting sick, they also provide food service workers with the added protection they need to handle all the food prep tasks at hand. With the global pandemic and the increased precautionary measures needed to prevent the spread of germs, there is more expectation than ever for businesses to use gloves in almost every aspect of the business where germ transfer may be possible between one person to another. So one question business owners have to ponder now is: what are the best gloves for a foodservice business? Read on to get the answers.
Uses for Gloves in Food Service
In a food service business there are many uses for gloves, from the most obvious being food handling, food prepping, food serving, cleaning and maintenance, to now using gloves just to handle highly-touch areas, money and even the cash register. With all these uses the expectation is also that the gloves must be changed frequently and between each task to prevent the breeding of bacteria and cross-contamination. It is no wonder foodservice workers and customers alike often complain about how many gloves are used throughout a day of work. In fact, one concerned Subway customer even launched a change.org petition to get Subway to stop using what she claims as 15.2 million gloves per day. If this customer’s calculations are anywhere remotely close to reality, then we should all be concerned not only for Subway, but all businesses using disposable gloves–and perhaps most of all, the environment. But before we get too deep into that concern, let’s talk about the kind of gloves that are appropriate for food service businesses and the work they do.
Using disposable gloves is an excellent way to help with the tasks aforementioned, but we must keep in mind that not all disposable gloves are created equal. Using the wrong gloves can sometimes cause more harm than good.
Gloves for Food Handling
General food handling like picking up meats, produce, or ingredients typically require little precision work so the best gloves for these tasks are vinyl, poly-vinyl hybrid, polyethylene, or bio-based compostable gloves. These types of gloves can usually get the job done because they are loose fit, easy to put on and easy to take off, which is what is preferred in these types of tasks that require fast and frequent glove changes.
Gloves for Food Prepping
Food prepping can entail a number of tasks, including cleaning, washing, cutting, marinating, mixing, measuring, and cooking. Gloves needed for these tasks ideally are thick, durable, heat tolerant, and form-fitting (or loose fitting if you require frequent glove changes). Gloves that fit the bill for these tasks are nitrile and latex.
Nitrile gloves are excellent for food prepping tasks since they offer outstanding chemical and heat resistance, making them perfect for cleaning and handling high heat cooking. They are also the thickest and most durable, making them impressively puncture resistant for cutting and chopping tasks. Given that they also are made of synthetic material resistant to oils, grease, petrol, and other chemicals also makes them the best gloves for cooking. Additionally, nitrile gloves also offer superb grip and dexterity, helping food preppers to retain their grip on food with minimal slippage.
The other appropriate alternative glove for food prepping is latex gloves. Latex gloves are made from natural rubber latex. They offer great protection against chemicals, making them perfect for food prep tasks that require washing or cleaning. Due to the natural stretchability and form-fitting nature of latex gloves, they are also ideal for precision work like cutting, rolling, picking or placing small foods or dishes. Perhaps the biggest pitfall of latex gloves is their high risk for allergies, not only for the user, but even for the end-consumer. The contamination of food with latex proteins by food handlers using latex gloves can result in potentially severe allergic reactions in latex-allergic consumers. For many businesses, avoiding gloves made with natural latex altogether is vital, as it isn’t worth it to harm workers or customers who have these potential allergies. Additionally, latex is found to not be compatible with many chemicals and food preppers and cleaners using latex may be prone to harm when the latex gloves’ integrity does not hold.
Gloves for Food Serving
Gloves best used for food serving can easily be polyethylene (also known as poly or PE gloves) or, its eco-friendly alternative, biobased compostable gloves. Since food serving typically doesn’t require precision work, rather it requires frequent changing of gloves, it is most beneficial to have lightweight, loose fit gloves that are easy to take on and off.
Gloves for Cleaning and Maintenance
The most appropriate gloves used for cleaning and maintaining a food service business should be strong, durable, and chemical resistant. Gloves that have these characteristics are nitrile, latex, vinyl, neoprene, and PVC. Nitrile gloves have a good general chemical resistance, but due to their higher cost, they might always be the most economical choice for restaurants that are already struggling to keep a healthy profit margin. Latex gloves are made of natural rubber that fits comfortably and protects from viruses and bacteria so this is the cheaper alternative to nitrile, though providers will have to worry about potential latex allergies when choosing these gloves. Latex and nitrile gloves are preferred for their ability to fit to the contours of the hand, making detail work easier. However, if cost is an issue, vinyl gloves are the next best alternative that will provide an adequate barrier to protect cleaners from germs and viruses. Neoprene and PVC are also excellent choices for cleaning and maintenance since these materials excel in durability and weather resistance, however, the baggier, stiffer, and thicker nature of these gloves may limit tactical dexterity and ability to do precision work.
Gloves for Highly Touched Areas and Money Handling
When it comes to gloves for handling general public areas and money handling, the key is having lightweight, sweat-resistant, and looser fit gloves to allow for frequent glove changes possible. The best gloves for handling general public areas and money handling are typically polyethylene, compostable, and vinyl gloves. These gloves are lightweight, looser fit and typically provide adequate hand protection against germs and viruses in quick money handling situations. Their looser fit also allows good air flow, less finger constriction, and less sweat build up, which makes wearing the gloves for longer periods of time more bearable.
Based on all the glove use case scenarios mentioned, it is undisputed that gloves are necessary and are heavily used in a foodservice business to provide the adequate protection needed to keep consumers and workers safe. So before you dive into buying your next box of gloves, be sure to figure out what tasks are required and which gloves are best to get the job done.