What Kind of Gloves are Food Safe?

In an effort to avoid contact with contaminated surfaces more and more people donning gloves. There has been lots of discussion around what type of glove is best, but there is not exactly one answer to that question. Each of the different glove types has its own advantages and disadvantages, therefore the gloves you use should reflect your needs.


Nitrile: Nitrile butadiene rubber is a synthetic, latex-free rubber. Nitrile gloves have characteristics similar to latex such as their elasticity and strength but do not contain the latex proteins people can be highly sensitive or allergic to. This glove is the best option for food handling to ensure food safety.

Vinyl: Made of polyvinyl chloride (PVC), vinyl gloves are currently the most commonly used gloves for food handling in the US. But, there is evidence showing that vinyl gloves are an ineffective barrier when handling food and could pose environmental and human health issues.

Latex: Very durable due to their high elasticity and resistance to punctures, latex gloves provide the wearer a great fit. Latex gloves are no longer used for food handling in the US due to potential allergic reactions in latex-sensitive individuals.

Polyethylene: Commonly called PE gloves, they are an inexpensive glove for food safety when frequent glove changes are required (i.e. making sandwiches or serving food from a deli case).


Another important factor in the buying process is the manufacturer. Gloves made in dirty factories can be contaminated with bacteria before you even use them. It is important to buy gloves from a reputable supplier that takes hygiene and sanitation seriously. Also, cheaply made gloves often contain fillers like chalk or silica to reduce the cost of manufacturing. These can be toxic to the wearer, and reduce glove strength and flexibility making them more prone to tearing.

Gloves might all seem the same but there is a lot of variation that can alter their efficacy in certain situations. Check out more food safety resources in our Food Safety Toolbox!

Topics:Hand Hygiene Resources