Could your disposable gloves be contributing towards food waste, asks Lynda Ronaldson?
They may have an FDA compliance for food handling, but does this mean the gloves handling your products are clean and food safe? Most glove purchasers will say an FDA approval is all they require, but should glove suppliers provide further food safety verification tests, including tests for cleanliness of the glove surfaces?
In a series of recent trials, the preliminary results of microbial testing of the surfaces of unused disposable gloves found not only bacteria specific to foodborne illnesses, such as E. coli and Staphylococcus, but also pathogens known specifically to cause food spoilage. These pathogens were found on new and unused disposable gloves currently sold to global food industries and are the result of contaminated water sources used in the glove manufacturing locations in SE Asia. Specific pathogens were linked to water sources from agricultural, industrial and urban run-off, including sewage contamination.
Gloves that state they are FDA compliant for food handling are not required to be checked for bio-burden or toxicity of the glove either at the factory or on entry into New Zealand. Disposable glove manufacturing for food contact is largely unregulated. This can lead to unsanitary conditions, allowing the survival of potential microbial contaminants on both the insides of gloves (affecting the glove wearer) and on the outside food contact surfaces.
As reported by NZ Parliament’s Environment Select Committee “Food waste is a major issue in New Zealand. As a nation, we waste an estimated $872 million worth of food a year. That represents 122,500 tonnes of food sent to landfills – enough to feed everyone in Dunedin for two years.” Such is the magnitude of food waste in New Zealand, the Environmental Select Committee is carrying out a briefing to look into ways to prevent the waste of food.
Disposable gloves may be contributing to this unnecessary food waste by introducing food spoilage pathogens into the food processing system.
How you ensure a totally food safe glove?
Food contact gloves should state they are compliant with FDA guidelines, but also have further independent testing to ensure that the areas the FDA does not check for – pathogen and dirt contamination, raw material integrity and so on – are evaluated.
Glove supplier, Eagle Protect, has launched a unique fingerprint analysis of glove analysis to further enhance glove safety in food environments. The multi-stage proprietary testing ensures Eagle’s gloves are produced in clean factories with rigorous quality control procedures in place, are free from toxic compounds and that the raw material “ingredients” are consistent in quality material makeup to the original manufacturing specifications.
Lynda Ronaldson is vice-president of marketing for Eagle Protect, the world’s only certified B Corporation and Child Labor Free glove supplier. Ronaldson relocated to the US with her family three years ago to bring Eagle’s advanced philosophy around the supply of disposable clothing to the US food industries. Eagle’s focus on assisting their customers food safety and environmental and sustainable practices, together with brand reputation through supply chain transparency is unique to the global glove industry.