The FDA Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) was introduced in 2011, aiming to prevent food contamination and subsequent foodborne illnesses rather than just respond to it. One overlooked element within the FSMA is disposable gloves. Labeled as intermittent contact items, the risk of contamination from these products is not seen as great enough to warrant close observation.
However, growing scientific evidence shows disposable gloves, in direct contact with food, can and do affect food safety, with around 15 percent of food service foodborne outbreaks implicating contaminated gloves as contributory factors in the outbreak.
What are Food Service Gloves?
Food service gloves are certified under FDA Title 21 CFR Part 177, which states that the components of the glove must comply with the FDA regulations and consist of “Substances generally recognized as safe for use in food or food packaging.”
However, the quality and safety of disposable gloves is limited to Letters of Compliance and Guarantee on the general make and model of the glove submitted (once) for testing, not necessarily the subsequent gloves produced. There are few controls required for glove manufacturing relating to the reliability of raw materials, manufacturing processes, and factory compliance after the certification has been awarded.
It is possible for a glove manufacturer to achieve FDA Title 21 CFR Part 177 certification for a glove, then alter manufacturing and hygiene practices, and use cheap raw materials to save costs. Cheap raw materials lower glove strength, flexibility, and durability—increasing glove failure rates, and may also introduce toxic compounds, including known endocrine disruptors and potassium cyanide to glove users and food products.
Fluctuations in raw material prices and the demand for lower costs from the end user puts manufacturers under pressure to sacrifice ingredient quality and substitute raw materials to meet these demands.| | | Next → | Single Page