Despite the food safety, environmental and occupational risks of vinyl gloves being widely reported, vinyl gloves remain the most common glove used in food handling in the US because of their perceived cheap price point. With pressures on companies to cut spending, vinyl gloves are seen as one area to keep costs at a minimum.
However, we’ll explain why companies are phasing out the use of PVC (vinyl) gloves and switching to safer, healthier and more cost-effective nitrile gloves.
Quality Issues Increase Costs
- Scientific studies have proven a 10-fold increase in average failure rates of vinyl gloves compared to nitrile gloves, after simulated use, with the average failure rate of vinyl gloves being 51%. When you take into account these failures, what seems like a cheap glove increases in price significantly. Read more here.
FOOD SAFETY RISKS
- Vinyl gloves are made from the PVC polymer which is rigid and weak - micro-punctures can occur within a few hand movements, meaning vinyl gloves can begin leaking as soon as they are donned. This increases the risk of cross-contamination for both the glove user and the food they are handling.
- An estimated 50-90% of punctures go unrecognized by glove wearers. Because “glove juice” and sweat build-up is particularly common in vinyl gloves, this results in the contamination of contact surfaces through glove holes, often so small they are unnoticed by the glove wearer.
- Dangerous quantities of dioxin and other carcinogens are released during the manufacture and disposal of PVC.
- Vinyl gloves are produced thicker and heavier in an attempt to reduce ripping, increasing waste disposal. The high failure rate (ripping) also increases glove usage and therefore waste.
- The PVC polymer makes vinyl gloves poorly fitting, thick, rigid and inflexible, and can cause repetitive fatigue injuries and trauma to the wearer’s fingers and thumbs.
- Up to 50% of vinyl glove raw materials are made from plasticizers, often containing inexpensive phthalates such as DiNP or DEHP and can also contain BPA. Phthalates have been shown to leach from products into the human body, causing adverse reproductive, neurobehavioral and respiratory outcomes and metabolic diseases such as insulin resistance. BPA is an endocrine disruptor, affecting hormones, and is linked to reproductive disorders, heart disease and cancers. Read more here.
Eagle Protect stopped selling vinyl gloves in January 2018 due to the reasons listed above. We cannot in good faith recommend them to our customers as a food safe or sustainable option, or as an option for staff wearing gloves throughout the day. Instead, we recommend using nitrile gloves.
Read more in depth information about the risks of vinyl gloves or find out why we recommend nitrile gloves for food handling and more.