Are These Gloves Food Safe?

Are these gloves food safe? FDA regulations

In food handling and food processing, gloves serve the dual purpose of protecting the worker and protecting the food from human pathogens such as bacteria and viruses. These gloves, however, are made from a wide range of natural and synthetic chemicals. It is important that the chemicals in the glove material do not inadvertently migrate to the food and become an unintended food additive.  

In the USA, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulates three classes of food additives. Direct food additives, such as food coloring, are added to and remain in the food. Secondary direct food additives are added to the food during processing, but are removed from the final food product. Indirect food additives are substances that come into contact with the food but are not intended to be added to the food. These additives could come from anything the food comes into contact with, including equipment, packaging, and gloves.

FDA 21 CFR Part 177.2600

To ensure gloves will not transfer harmful chemicals, colors, odors or tastes to food, they must comply with FDA 21 CFR Part 177.2600 – Rubber articles intended for repeated use. This Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) lists the permitted materials and chemicals that can come into contact with food. This includes the elastomers, such as acrylonitrile-butadiene copolymer (nitrile,) chloroprene polymers, and natural rubber (latex.) It also details acceptable accelerants, activators, antioxidants, plasticizers, fillers and colorants used in manufacturing these rubber articles.

The code stipulates extractable limits for both fatty and aqueous (watery) foods. Overall migration – the total of the substances that can migrate – is tested, measured and reported as milligrams per square inch.

The overall migration limit (OML) for fatty foods is 20 milligrams per square inch at 7 hours, with no more than one additional milligram between 7 and 9 hours.

The OML for aqueous foods is 175 milligrams per square inch at 7 hours, with no more than 4 milligrams per square inch between 7 and 9 hours.

Using RoyalTouch300 Nitrile Exam Gloves as an example, overall migration can be quite low compared to the requirement.

Extraction Conditions Overall Migration for
Glove Sample (mg/in2)
21 CFR Part 177.2600
Requirement
Inferred Result
Distilled water at reflux temperature for 7 hours ND(<0.5) 20 Comply
Distilled water at reflux temperature for 9 hours (additional 2 hours from initial 7 hours extraction) ND(<0.5) 1 Comply
n-Hexane at reflux temperature for 7 hours 0.6 175 Comply
n-Hexane at reflux temperature for 9 hours (additional 2 hours from initial 7 hours extraction) ND(<0.5) 4 Comply

 

With over 200 glove types on the market – considering differences in material composition, thickness, internal and external treatments, powder, and modulus – it is important to determine if your selected glove is suitable for food contact.

While most examination gloves would meet this FDA regulation, ASTM standards for exam gloves are more about barrier resistance and durability, and do not directly address overall migration of chemicals.

To help you verify that a glove complies with CFR 21, the glove company should be able to supply a FDA letter of guarantee or a document with the overall migration test results.

Request Free Sample of RoyalTouch300 Food Safe Gloves

Does Glove Color Matter?

Not so long ago, the presence of color in a disposable glove indicated a latex-free glove. Nitrile exam gloves were usually some shade of blue. Latex gloves were a natural color, and looked like – well, latex.

But not anymore.

Nitrile exam gloves are now available in a rainbow of colors. Nitrile cleanroom gloves come in colors other than the standard white. And latex gloves are available in colors other than “natural.”

While choice is nice, does glove color matter?

Maybe.

Cleanroom Glove Color

In cleanroom and controlled environments, contamination is a constant concern. Contaminants can come from the glove, other materials, and from the workers.

White cleanroom gloves are the industry standard. Contamination is easier to see on a white glove. White also conveys and promotes the “clean” message to workers.

Color is a glove additive, and additives can react with the product or process. For this reason, less color is preferred. This is also true for white cleanroom gloves, as white is also an added color. Some white gloves contain less dye than others, reducing the risk of unwanted reactions.

While white is the industry standard, there are use cases for a colored cleanroom glove. A blue cleanroom glove may provide more contrast, making it easier for workers to do their job well.

Glove Color in the Lab

Laboratories are frequently faced with the possibility of cross-contamination. This can happen when an employee inadvertently transfers substances from one area of the lab to another on their gloved hands.

Assigning a specific glove color to each area of the lab can help. For instance, blue gloves could be used in one area, and white nitrile gloves in another. Wearing different colored gloves provides supervisors and employees a visual cue. This can help prevent costly errors caused by cross-contamination.

Colored Medical Gloves

Health care facilities often prefer a colored nitrile. This helps staff differentiate between latex and non-latex gloves.

A shade of blue is the traditional nitrile color of choice in medical facilities. But in recent years other colors such as gray, purple, and pink have become common.

Glove color can be useful in identifying glove failure. Double gloving, wearing a dark glove underneath a light colored glove, can help reveal punctures and small tears.

A Rainbow of Dental Gloves

Glove manufacturers that focus on the dental industry have marketed a rainbow of colored and scented nitrile and latex gloves.

Some dental offices like to color-coordinate their scrubs and gloves. Other offices prefer to use a dark blue nitrile exam glove to reduce the visibility of blood. For the dental hygienist, glove selection is most often a matter of personal choice.

Because glove color has become an effective marketing and branding tool, we will likely continue to see new exam glove colors. Glove color choice will still be influenced by the industry, purchasing decisions and cost.

What do you think?  Does glove color matter?

Editor’s Note:  This post was originally published on Dec. 13, 2011 and has been completely revamped and updated for accuracy and relevancy.

RoyalTouch300_CTA_2 Cirrus800_CTA_3

Understanding Glove Related Contact Dermatitis

[dropcap]Y[/dropcap]ou may wear disposable nitrile, latex or vinyl gloves many hours each work day.  If your hands develop dry, itchy, irritated areas or blisters, you are understandably concerned.  Wearing gloves and having healthy skin is imperative in your line of work.

Could your gloves be to blame?  In this Q&A article, we’ll help you get the bottom of the types of glove related contact dermatitis, their causes, and how you might find a resolution for your skin condition.

Q.   What is contact dermatitis?

A.   Occupationally related contact dermatitis is a skin condition that can develop from frequent and repeated use of hand hygiene products, exposure to chemicals and glove use. Contact dermatitis is classified as either irritant or allergic.

Irritant contact dermatitis is common, nonallergic, and develops as dry, itchy, irritated areas on the skin around the area of contact.  It is usually caused by an irritant, such as the chemicals commonly used in the manufacture of hand products and gloves.  It can also be caused by water, (including improper hand drying before donning gloves,) soaps, detergents, solvents, acids, alkalis and friction. Diagnosis is made by reviewing the patient’s medical history, current symptoms, and exclusion of Type IV and Type I hypersensitivity.  This is not an allergic reaction.

Allergic contact dermatitis (type IV hypersensitivity) often manifests as an itchy, red rash, sometimes with small blisters, beginning approximately 6 to 48 hours after contact.  Like irritant dermatitis, it is usually confined to the areas of contact.  It can result from exposure to accelerators and other chemicals used in the manufacture of most latex and non-latex gloves.  Diagnosis is made by reviewing the patient’s medical history, current symptoms and by performing a skin patch test.

Q.   What are chemical “accelerators?”

A.   Chemical accelerators are used in the glove manufacturing process to “accelerate” the linkage of rubber molecules in natural rubber latex or synthetic rubber latex, such as nitrile and vinyl. The chemicals transform the liquid rubber into a thin, strong and elastic glove film, and stabilizes the material.

These sulfur-based chemical accelerators (dithiocarbamates, thiurams and mercaptobenzothiazoles (MBT)) cause the majority of skin dermatitis reactions.

Q.   What are “accelerator-free” gloves?

A.   Accelerator-free gloves, like FreeStyle1100, and Scion700 are manufactured using a breakthrough cross-linking technology that does not use chemical accelerators (dithiocarbamates, thiurams and mercaptobenzothiazoles (MBT.)) The result is a thin, soft and stretchy glove that is actually stronger than traditionally manufactured nitrile glove material.

Q.   What does “Low Dermatitis Potential” mean?

A.   This is an FDA approved claim reserved for gloves that have been tested, and are 1) proven free of chemical accelerator residue, 2) will not induce skin irritation, and 3) will not cause any potential sensitization reaction.

Q.   How long should I try accelerator-free gloves?

A.   Each person is unique. Some individuals know within a few hours, while others require an extended trial of several days or even weeks to know if accelerator-free gloves will resolve their hand dermatitis. (Additional samples of FreeStyle1100 are available for individuals needing a longer period of time to evaluate the glove.)

Q.   Is there anything else in a glove that can cause allergic contact dermatitis?

A.   Yes.  Although 90% of glove allergies are caused by accelerators, the remaining individuals may be reacting to other substances sometimes used in the manufacture of gloves, such as lanolin, polyoxypropyleneglycol (a coagulant,) dyes (organic or inorganic,) quaternary ammonium compounds, and preservatives.

Q.  How important is it to resolve contact dermatitis early?

A.   Skin is an important barrier to bloodborne pathogens and disease. Broken skin due to ongoing irritation or allergy puts an individual at higher risk. A chronic skin condition is painful, and could result in an individual having to abandon their career choice.

Q.  I don’t have contact dermatitis. Should I still consider switching to an accelerator-free glove?

A.   Yes. According to NIOSH, “Because the prognosis of occupational irritant and allergic dermatitis is poor, prevention is imperative. This fact is emphasized by one study showing that 75% of patients with occupational contact dermatitis developed chronic skin disease.” (1) With thousands of potentially harmful chemicals being introduced into the workplace each year, it is important to reduce your exposure wherever possible.

References
NIOSH (The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health,) Allergic & Irritant Dermatitis(1)
CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) Frequently Asked Questions, Contact Dermatitis and Latex Allergy

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5 Good Glove Fit Factors

There are many factors to consider when selecting a disposable glove.  After choosing the right glove type and glove material for the task, good fit ranks high on the list.  A properly fitted glove is critical to performing procedures correctly.   A glove that fits properly conforms to the hand, and does not feel too tight or too stiff.   Consider some glove physical characteristics that influence fit.

1.  Glove Length

Glove length is measured from the tip of the middle finger to the cuff.  Exam gloves are typically a minimum of 9” in length, while surgical gloves and some cleanroom gloves are 12” in length to provide more protection.

2.  Glove Width

The width of a glove is one of the most important considerations for proper glove fit.  Gloves are manufactured to specific ASTM glove standards, including palm width.  But there is a fairly wide range within each size.  A medium exam glove, for instance, can vary from 85mm to 105mm in width.   And there is room for overlap, so one manufacturer’s “medium” exam glove could be another manufacturer’s “large” glove.

3.  Finger Length and Width

Finger lengths and widths also vary between product lines from one manufacturer to another.  The finger length and width is largely determined by the formers used on the manufacturing line.  However, the glove material affects the amount of stretch, which affects finger fit.  A super stretchy, low protein latex glove works with the widest range of finger sizes, and could be a good choice for individuals with shorter fingers.  When it comes to nitrile gloves, the formulations range from “some stretch” to “very stretchy,” which affects finger fit.

4.  Glove Material

Glove thickness and stretchability also influences overall glove fit when donned.  If you are accustomed to wearing a “medium” glove in one brand, you may need to try a “small” or a “large” glove in another brand.  If you are trying a very thin glove, you may need to try a smaller size in order to get the proper fit.

5.  Finger Contour

Hand specific gloves with contoured fingers and a natural thumb position are most commonly found in surgical glove lines.  While offering the best fit, these gloves cost more than an examination glove.  Fortunately, ambidextrous nitrile exam gloves (gloves that can be worn on the left or right hand) made from newer, thinner nitrile material, allows the glove to warm and follow the contours of the hand, fingers and thumb to enhance comfort, improve tactile sensitivity, and reduce hand fatigue.

Finding a good fitting glove is essential.  A tight fitting glove can negatively affect fine motor skills, irritate the skin, and lead to hand fatigue.  On the other hand, a glove that fits too loose can cause a person to execute movements awkwardly, and potentially lead to exposure to bloodborne pathogens or hazardous chemicals.  Evaluating a glove’s ability to contour to the hand, and properly fit the width of the hand is key to finding a good fitting glove that you will enjoy wearing.

[note]Each of our HandPRO Exam Gloves offers a unique fit and stretch due to their different compounds.
Click on the glove below to request your sample pack:

AirSoft900 Nitrile Exam Gloves
Cirrus800 White Nitrile Exam Gloves
FreeStyle1100 Nitrile Exam Gloves with Low Dermatitis Potential
HandPRO 400 Latex Exam Gloves[/note]

Tips to Avoid Contact Dermatitis This Winter

Tips to Avoid Contact Dermatitis This Winter

The winter season is here.  That means colds and flu, and overly-drying, heated air in our homes and workplaces.  Add necessary frequent hand washing to this combo and you may end up with a very uncomfortable situation – contact dermatitis.

Contact dermatitis can be divided into two categories – irritant and allergic.  Irritant contact dermatitis is the most common type.  It can be as mild as a rash, or as debilitating as dry, itchy skin that can crack and bleed.  It occurs because the outer layer of your skin has been damaged.  Most often, this is due to harsh soaps and damaging chemical solvents.  Allergic contact dermatitis occurs when an allergen triggers an immune response in your skin.  It shows up as a red rash, with bumps and sometimes blisters.  It can be caused by natural rubber, the sulfur-based chemical accelerators used in the production of many non-latex gloves, as well as perfumes, cosmetics and hair dyes.

A Pricey Problem

Dermatitis is a widespread problem.  Up to 35 percent of all occupational diseases are skin diseases, with contact dermatitis making up the majority of the cases.  In 2005, The Society for Investigative Dermatology and the American Academy of Dermatology reported that contact dermatitis was associated with more than 9 million physician office visits resulting in more than $1.4 billion spent on treatment.

Because of increased exposure to chemicals, detergents and frequent hand washing, workers in health care, construction, food service and cleaning are especially vulnerable.  Individuals with a history of eczema, latex allergy, prone to sunburn, and repeated exposure to water should be especially careful in order to avoid dermatitis.

What You Can Do

To avoid occupational contact dermatitis, carefully take stock of your environment and habits:

Health Care Workers  –   After washing with soap and water, are you drying your hands gently, so that you do not cause unnecessary damage to your skin?  If you are starting to notice a rash, has your facility recently changed to a new brand of hand soap?  Your skin may be irritated by a chemical in the new product.   Because alcohol-based hand rubs do not cause dermatitis, the CDC recommends they be used whenever possible in health care settings.  These foams and gels often contain emollients and substantially reduce skin irritation and dryness.

Industrial / Cleaning / Food Service Workers – What chemicals, oils and cleaning agents do your hands come into contact with?  Are you wearing the right glove material (nitrile vs. latex) to protect your hands from that irritant?  Are you around wet cement, cement dust or paper dust?  These irritants can also cause dermatitis.  Make sure you are wearing disposable gloves to protect your hands.   If your hands do come into contact with cement or chemicals, wash your hands immediately with a fragrance-free, neutral pH hand soap with emollients, and gently dry your hands without excessive rubbing.  (Alcohol-based hand rubs are not recommended for food service workers, as its effectiveness is reduced when in the presence of food proteins.)

You will likely experience dry hands this winter.  The cold air and wind chaps your hands, and the low humidity level further removes moisture from your skin.  By paying careful attention to how you wash and dry your hands, and protect your skin from harsh detergents and chemicals, you can greatly reduce your chances of developing painful contact dermatitis.

Could your gloves be the problem?

Try FreeStyle1100 and Scion700 Nitrile Exam Gloves with “Low Dermatitis Potential”

The sulfur-based chemical accelerators – carbamates, thiurams and mercaptobenzothiazoles (MBT) – commonly found in non-latex gloves can lead to contact dermatitis.  If you suspect your gloves are causing your current skin irritation, request a sample pack of FreeStyle1100 Accelerator-Free Nitrile Exam Gloves and Scion700 Nitrile Exam Gloves with Low Dermatitis Potential.

What is Nitrile Anyway?

Disposable nitrile gloves have become a mainstay in the medical, dental, lab, cleanroom and food handling industries.  We enjoy their strong, latex-free comfort.  But what is nitrile anyway?

The Science of Nitrile

Nitrile is a shortened term for Nitrile Butadiene Rubber, or NBR.  Although it is also referred to as NBR latex, there is no natural rubber latex (or latex proteins) in the material.  Nitrile is a synthetic rubber copolymer of acrylonitrile and butadiene.  These two materials (monomers) are placed in a stainless steel vat, and using hot or cold polymerization, a chemical reaction occurs, and voila!  Nitrile is born.

The nitrile latex is filtered and blended with an antioxidant to stabilize the material.  Next, the liquid is solidified by adding coagulating agents, then finally washed and dried.  The resulting material is referred to as “crumb rubber.”  Crumb rubber can be liquefied by product manufacturers to make nitrile rubber materials, such as floor mats, footwear, adhesives and gloves.

Low-Modulus Magic

Nitrile alone, without anything added, is a fairly rigid material.  So glove manufacturers add a small percentage other chemicals to NBR in order to create a soft, or low modulus, nitrile glove.  Over the past decade, these manufacturers have continued to improve their nitrile glove material formulations.  Disposable nitrile gloves have grown softer and more elastic.  The latest innovations in nitrile glove development include accelerator-free formulations that lower the risk of Type IV contact dermatitis in wearers.

These thin and flexible gloves are what we have all come to rely on to keep ourselves, our patients, products and food items safe.  Nitrile gloves are more resistant to oils and acids than natural rubber (latex) gloves.  The material is resistant to abrasion and puncture, making it suitably durable for many tasks.  Low modulus nitrile gloves also conform well to the hand and provide excellent tactile sensitivity.

As disposable nitrile glove formulations evolve, hand protection is becoming ever safer and more comfortable.  We look forward to continuing to bring you the very best nitrile gloves made from the latest materials.

Have you noticed the improvements in disposable nitrile gloves over the years?  We’d love to hear your comments.  Share them with us below!

Disposable Gloves Reduce Risk of Foodborne Illness

Foodborne illness.  No restaurant operator wants those words associated with their establishment.  To ensure their food is safe, many hours are devoted to employee education and ongoing training.  Hand hygiene and disposable gloves are an important part of safe food handling.

Restroom Germs and Cross-Contamination

A critical component to safe food handling is proper gloving and hand hygiene. “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.  Restaurants offering gluten-free foods have the added concern of  gluten being accidentally transferred.

The problem of foodborne illness has real consequences – both for customers and food service establishments.  In 2009, a McDonald’s location in Illinois was linked to a hepatitis A outbreak that resulted in a class-action lawsuit.  And in New York City alone, dining out was linked to 3,500 hospitalizations in 2008 for food-borne illnesses and some 1,300 cases of salmonella.

But even if employees were always diligent about washing their hands, hand washing alone is not enough to prevent food-borne illness.  Routine hand washing does not remove all bacteria, and it only takes a small amount to make someone sick.  An additional barrier, such as a disposable glove, is needed.

FDA Food Code 2009

To help make food safer, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) released an updated Food Code in 2009.  Here are some of the food handling rules:

  • Employees may not touch ready-to-eat foods with bare hands, except when washing fruits and vegetables, or when otherwise approved.  They must use a barrier, such as deli tissue, spatulas, tongs or gloves.
  • Wearing gloves is not a substitute for proper hand washing. Gloves can fail, and allow bacteria and viruses through, so employees must wash their hands before donning gloves to work with food.
  • Gloves should be changed often.  Gloves should be changed when they become damaged or soiled, after 4 hours of wear, or after handling raw foods.
  • Glove should be worn for a single task.  A food service employee should never handle money, take out the trash or perform other tasks and return to handling ready-to-eat food without changing their gloves.

Gluten-Free Food Handling

Restaurants such as Subway that are starting to offer gluten-free foods are giving special attention to hand hygiene and proper gloving and food handling.  And rightly so.  An employee that handles regular gluten-containing bread and then handles gluten-free bead without changing gloves has just cross-contaminated the food.  While this may not affect a customer with a non-celiac gluten intolerance, it spells real trouble for a customer with true Celiac Disease.

Glove Selection Considerations

Restaurant operators or managers selecting gloves for employees are necessarily concerned with cost.  But the cheapest gloves may not be the best choice.  Considering the following criteria will help ensure the right glove is purchased for the right job.

  • Proper Fit – For the safety of the employee, properly fitted gloves are essential.  Gloves that are too loose can result in serious bodily injury.  Glove that are too tight lead to hand strain.
  • Proper Material – Consider the dexterity needed for the tasks the employee is performing.  While a poly glove may be suitable for assembling a sandwich, a more form fitting nitrile glove is better suited for tasks like slicing and chopping.
  • Comfort – A comfortable glove that provides adequate grip and tactile sense will increase employee compliance and safety.
  • Allergens – Allergens and chemical sensitivities should be considered.  Employees concerned about latex sensitization should be offered a non-latex alternative, like nitrile gloves.  Please note that some individuals may be sensitive to the chemicals commonly found in non-latex gloves.  If this is the case, accelerator-free nitrile gloves like FreeStyle1100 are now available.

By carefully educating employees about hand hygiene and providing gloves that are suitable to the task and comfortable to wear, restaurant operators can be confident they are doing their part to reduce the risk of food-borne illness.

HandPRO Gloves Get a Fresh, New Website

For most companies, each new year brings exciting opportunities to overcome challenges, launch new products and improve communication with customers and distribution partners.

We’re no different, and this year we are starting off right with a fresh, new website.

The new www.HourglassIndustries.com brings you new information and new features, all designed to improve your experience.

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Nitrile Gloves, Vinyl Gloves and Tomato Salmonella to be Studied

The tomato salmonella outbreak of 2008 in the United States affected the entire nation. For months, while the source of the salmonella was hunted down, no one dared eat a raw tomato. The enormity of the problem led to criticism of the FDA, and a renewed effort to improve food safety in growing and harvesting fresh produce.

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NOTICE: Beware of large offers of gloves through unauthorized distributors. Email us at request@hourglass-intl.com for verification.