“...cross-contamination will follow the path of least resistance, in this case favoring vinyl gloves.”
Vinyl (PVC) disposable gloves are the common choice of disposable glove for food processing and food service in the US, largely because of price and historical purchasing habits.
New research suggests this purchasing habit needs urgent review!
New research conducted by microbiologist, food safety and glove expert Barry Michaels* has highlighted a significant increased risk of cross-contamination when using vinyl gloves in food handling, when compared to nitrile.
“The science involved in liquid and soil transfer to and from surfaces are controlled by forces such as surface tension of liquids and semi-solids and the surface free energy of surfaces.“ said Michaels.
What are the alternatives to vinyl gloves?
Eagle Protect Sensitive nitrile gloves, when measured for surface free energy (SFE), were shown to have overall surface energy and transfer characteristics with extreme similarity to Teflon®. This means food and human “soils” that often contain disease producing microorganisms do not stick well to the Eagle Sensitive nitrile gloves.
food & human “soils” that often contain disease producing microorganisms do not stick well to Eagle Sensitive Nitrile gloves.
However, polyvinyl chloride (vinyl) gloves are a different matter. At around 13 SFE units higher (mN/m2) these surfaces are more energetic, with pick-up and spread thermodynamically favored. This means that food and human “soil” contaminants are more easily picked-up and spread over vinyl glove surfaces and anything they touch, when compared to lower-stick nitrile gloves.
“FOOD & HUMAN SOIL CONTAMINANTS ARE MORE EASILY PICKED-UP & SPREAD OVER VINYL GLOVE SURFACES AND ANYTHING THEY TOUCH, WHEN COMPARED TO LOWER-STICK NITRILE GLOVES.”
These tests mean that food and human “soils,” often associated with the spread of disease producing microorganisms, do not stick well to the Eagle Sensitive nitrile gloves, with generic vinyl gloves having an estimated 3-fold (3x) higher net average cross-contamination potential as Eagle Protect nitrile gloves.
The unique surface characteristics of Eagle nitrile gloves, due to the raw material formulation and processes undertaken during manufacturing, make them an ideal food handling and preparation glove.
Michaels stated, “The pure science involved in cross-contamination can be quite complex, involving the physical chemistry of surfaces, soils and pathogens. From a food safety point of view, because food workers gloves are in direct contact with food, cross-contamination will follow the path of least resistance, in this case favoring vinyl gloves.”
*Michaels B, 2017. Summary of Hand & Glove Surface Cross-Contamination Potential in Retail Deli, Food Processing & Service Environments Based on Surface Energy Studies (unpublished report on file with Eagle Protect PBC). Contact Eagle Protect PBC for more information.
Barry Michaels is an international scientific consultant on food safety and an independent consultant to academic institutions, government, industry and non-profit organizations. He and scientific collaborator Professor Griffith have worked on behalf of the B. Michaels Group Inc., an international scientific consultancy organization. Michaels & Griffith each have a lifetime of experience in the fields of infectious disease investigation, control and prevention in food and healthcare industries.
Written by: Steve Ardagh, President & Founder