Vinyl Glove Facts: Is Vinyl Good for the Food Industry & the World?

The short answer is “No."

Businesses use vinyl (PVC) gloves, for two main reasons:

1. Vinyl Is Cheap

Vinyl are cheap gloves to make and cheap to buy, but at a high cost to user and customer health and the environment in general. Fortunately, there are competitively priced alternatives.


2. The Industry Doesn't Know About the Alternatives

A lack of education on this subject is the real reason why vinyl gloves are still being used in the world today -- (That’s what we’re here for! We spread information and bring supply chain transparency to the food industry, with the best interests of your business reputation in mind.) It’s important to understand that Eagle sells vinyl gloves only for those people who are looking for cheap disposable gloves in non or intermittent food contact situations.

So what are the vinyl facts behind why vinyl gloves are bad for users, businesses, customers and the planet? We dive in below:


Can Contain Chemicals Known to Cause Cancer

Up to 50% of vinyl gloves are made up of plasticizers, which make the PVC flexible and soft enough to wear. Often, plasticizers contain phthalates and BPA as they are inexpensive.

Therefore, to reduce cost, many vinyl gloves contain the phthalate plasticizers DiNP (Diisononyl phthalate) and DEHP di (2-ethylhexyl) phthalate. Both DiNP and DEHP have been found to adversely impact human health and have been added to the Californian Proposition 65 list of chemicals known to the state of California to cause cancer. (Learn more here!)

No matter what part of the food handling industry you work in, opening up your business to these dangerous materials is a heavy price to pay for cheap vinyl gloves, especially considering recent advancements in the formulation and manufacturing of Nitrile gloves has lead them to become the cost effective disposable glove for food processes.

Low Prices Come at a Cost

Most vinyl food safety gloves are made in factories in northern China. To keep the cost as low as possible, they use coal fired boilers to heat all the hot water that’s used in the vinyl glove making process. Recently, pollution has become so bad in these areas of China that the Chinese Government has forced these factories to stop production for at least three months. Aside from the very real dangers to the environment, what does this mean for the price of food safety disposable vinyl gloves? Prices of will be increasing. As a result, we can only hope this will inspire businesses in the US to consider affordable alternatives to vinyl gloves.

Unhealthy Manufacturing Processes

Due to the heavy chlorine content in vinyl, dioxins are released into the surrounding atmosphere during manufacturing, burning or landfilling of PVC. According to this ToxTown article, exposure to dioxins can cause reproductive, developmental, and other health problems, and at least one dioxin is classified as a carcinogen.

Permeability Problems

Countless studies demonstrate the permeability of vinyl gloves. On a microscopic level, vinyl allows for viruses and bacteria to permeate in between molecules. According to Ansell, one of the largest sellers of gloves globally, vinyl gloves leak up to 85% of the time, and these leaks can occur very quickly. What does this mean for vinyl glove wearers? Basically, when you wear vinyl disposable gloves, you’re opening up your business, your employees and your customers to bacterial dangers.

Commonly Powdered

If food safety disposable vinyl gloves are powdered (applies to all types of gloves), most likely the powder is a form of cornstarch. It’s also highly likely the corn used in this cornstarch is a GMO, which may be an issue based on the types of foods you and your employees are handling. For instance, if you’re selling organic and GE Free products, your customers probably would not appreciate a touch of GMO cornstarch falling into their food. Also, with cornstarch powder, there’s a risk it contains gluten, which is a very real health danger for people requiring gluten-free products.

Alternatives to Vinyl Gloves

Nitrile gloves are a cost effective competitor to vinyl food safety gloves. They contain a high tensile strength while also maintaining incredible flexibility, not to mention they come without these potentially devastating health and environmental risks stated above. It’s also worth noting that these days Nitrile gloves are very similar in price. Here at Eagle Protect, we supply both types of gloves -- though we urge our customers to switch to Nitrile gloves at every chance we get!

If you are set on using vinyl gloves even after this article, Eagle Protect supplies the highest quality and most responsibly sourced vinyl gloves on the market. But one of our goals here at Eagle Protect is to arm customers with the information to make the best choice for their business, while also replacing vinyl gloves with better products for the benefit of businesses, customers and the world.

If you’d like to learn more about the safe alternative, Nitrile gloves, or responsibly sourced vinyl gloves, please request a call with one of our disposable food safety glove experts today!

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