While most federal and state laws require ready-to-eat foods to be prepared and served without bare hand contact, most have stopped short of mandating the use of gloves (although federal, state and municipal laws may vary). As a result, there are several ways foodservice providers have addressed this issue, including the use of tongs, forks and spoons, deli or waxed paper or even napkins. Some kitchens found these methods easier to manage and less costly--but that approach has changed due to the coronavirus pandemic.
As consumers continue to emerge from sheltering at home, they are much more vigilant about health and safety. Like customers in grocery stores, convenience stores and restaurants, people who regularly eat in hospitals, schools, universities or other institutions are looking for a safe eating experience that adheres to the most rigorous health and safety conditions.
It has become more common for foodservice workers to wear gloves and other personal protective equipment, particularly when performing customer-facing tasks such as working the check-out or managing serving lines. The pandemic, and the need to keep workers and customers healthy, has prompted a rush for protective equipment—including gloves—leading to worldwide shortages and price increases. In addition,when the pandemic first hit, disposable gloves and facemasks became a symbol of safe living, exacerbating the shortage of gloves. Because of this, keeping staff supplied with the right safety equipment has become a challenge and can have a negative effect on the kitchen’s bottom line.
Although successful kitchens have always kept cleanliness and safety in mind, extra precautions are now being taken during food preparation and service. Foodservice operators, chefs and line staff are washing their hands and changing disposable gloves more frequently as the gloves can quickly be compromised by small punctures, cuts or regular wear and tear.
One approach that many food service operators are taking is the use of antimicrobial fabric gloves. These breathable, lightweight gloves provide dexterity to perform everyday tasks while helping to stop the spread of bacteria. They also are machine washable for repeated use, reducing dependence on disposable gloves. One example, the SafetyApplied Antimicrobial Glove offered by DayMark Safety Systems, includes touchscreen capability in the index and thumb fingertips, making it ideal when working with POS systems and smart devices. Food service operators can assign these gloves to customer-facing employees, giving them the ability to protect themselves—and the public—while allocating difficult-to-secure disposable gloves to essential, back-of-house employees and tasks.
A cut above
Even safer for those employees who work with meat slicers, vegetable choppers, food processors and knives are protective gloves that go beyond just stopping the spread of bacteria. Blade cuts are a common accident in kitchens. Hand injuries can cost the food service industry millions of dollars in medical costs, time lost from work and other workers compensation insurance losses.
DayMark also offers an antimicrobial glove option that is cut resistant, available in a variety of sizes and compliant with federal regulations for direct food contact. The CRG-5.2 Antimicrobial Cut Resistant Glove is designed to protect from cuts by the sharpest blades while keeping worker comfort in mind. The 13-gauge seamless construction holds up to heavy use in the busiest of environments and the high-performance synthetic fibers provide the same maximum comfort, fit, and dexterity as the SafetyApplied glove. It also features AlphaSan® antimicrobial material, which employs silver to combat the effects of a broad spectrum of microorganisms.
Wearing any type of protective glove can be a nuisance for food service workers. Fortunately, advancements in comfort and flexibility have made many types of gloves—including the SafetyApplied and CRG-5.2 models—more attractive to workers. Reusable antimicrobial gloves are providing an affordable, convenient solution, helping to protect the health and safety of staff and customers alike.
Article originally appeared on the Foodservice Director website.