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.

A new study on the safe handling of tomatoes to begin this month will research how plastics used by food workers can affect the transfer and survival of salmonella. The study will be lead by a team from the University of Massachusetts Amherst, using a grant from the Center for Product Safety, Davis, California.

In addition to studying how bacteria transference can be affected by a variety of plastic packaging tubs and ramps used in harvesting produce, the affect of gloves will also be studied. Nitrile gloves, polyethylene gloves, and vinyl gloves will all be examined to determine their possible role in transferring salmonella to food crops. High density polyethylene bins, nitrile gloves, low density polyethylene gloves and vinyl gloves will be repeatedly sanitized to understand how sanitizer affects glove surfaces and the bacterial transfer to these surfaces.

“While we’re not sure about the cross-contamination levels we’ll find with these new experiments in Salmonella and tomatoes,” says project leader Lynne McLandsborough, “it’s clear that growers need to know the facts and how best to carry out a safe harvest.”

At Hourglass Industries, we understand the important role of gloves in food service and food harvesting. We look forward to learning the results of this study, and applying any beneficial information to the formulation of our HandPRO gloves.  Request samples or more information about our nitrile and latex gloves for the food industry.

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