Vinyl gloves are being dropped by disposable glove supplier Eagle Protect for food safety and health reasons.
While the gloves have not been used in the New Zealand meat processing industry for 10-20 years, following the lead of Japan which banned them for food handling in 2001, the reasoning behind the company’s decision to drop them altogether is the growing wealth of information about the adverse effects of the polyvinyl chloride (PVC) material used to make the gloves on health and food safety, explains Eagle Protect marketing manager Lynda Ronaldson. She explains evidence shows the heavy chlorine content in PVC causes dioxins to be released into the surrounding atmosphere during manufacturing, burning or landfilling of PVC.
“Exposure to dioxins can reportedly cause reproductive, developmental, and other health problems, and at least one dioxin is classified as a carcinogen,” she says. “Vinyl gloves can contain phthalates, which have been shown to leach from the gloves into the human body, and can easily leach and evaporate into food, particularly fatty food. Phthalates DiNP and DEHP have been found to cause cancer.”
Other studies have proven vinyl gloves have a failure rate of up to 50 percent, and in some cases begin leaking as soon as they are donned.
“New research also shows vinyl gloves are permeable to bacteria and virus, and significantly increase the risk of cross-contamination – reasons why vinyl gloves and have been described as ‘infection control nightmares,’ she says.
While vinyl gloves are cheap per glove, the economics driving the selection of disposable gloves expand far beyond per unit cost, though many glove supply companies and procurement professionals don’t see it as such, says Ronaldson.
“They fail to factor in food safety and cross contamination aspects, focusing primarily on finding the most inexpensive glove option for their organisation.
“This low-cost methodology does not factor in the cost of business risk of compromised food safety, together with the environmental and human health implications of vinyl gloves,” says Ronaldson.
Eagle Protect is New Zealand’s leading supplier of disposable gloves to around 80 percent of the food industry here.