If seeing your food cooked and handled by someone sporting a pair of latex gloves gives you a sense of security, the results of a new study in the Journal of Food Protection might give you pause.
The authors say that, contrary to common knowledge, even gloves used properly in food preparation can’t by themselves adequately protect against food contamination. And gloves may actually pose a number of unforeseen risks because the confidence they provide may encourage risky behavior.
The authors suggest that even the best gloves are no substitute for regular, thorough hand washing.
Apparently, microbes are fans of the warm, sweaty interior of the gloves, and all it takes is an errant fingernail or sharp ring to poke a nearly invisible hole in the glove.
The likelihood of a tear increases the longer the gloves are worn, as does the number of icky little things inside the glove.
Even more than ripped gloves, the study says that improper use of gloves is the bigger risk to consumers:
The authors note that studies in the United Kingdom have concluded that compared to bare hands, gloved hands can contribute as much if not more bacteria to foods and food-preparation surfaces, so gloves can be a cause of cross-contamination. Gloves should be changed or sanitized when cooks move from working with raw meats to preparing vegetables and other foods.
The study says that the most important thing in food prep is still thoroughly washing hands with hot water and soap before putting on gloves or changing into a new pair.
Gloves Alone Aren’t Enough for Food Safety [Food Safety News]