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Gloves may not protect your food from harmful bacteria

Gloves create a false sense of security,which in turn often leads to more risky behaviour.

If you think plastic gloves-worn by deli handlers,fast food operators and lunch ladies-keep your food cleaner and safer to eat,then you could be wrong as gloved too contribute bacteria to food,say scientists.

Six researchers,who analysed food safety studies as far back as the 1930s,found that gloved hands can contribute as much if not more bacteria to food products compared to bare hands,reports Discovery News.

One reason is that they create a false sense of security,which in turn often leads to more risky behaviour.

The researchers found that glove-wearers were less likely to wash their hands after potential cross-contamination risks such as coughing,touching the body,eating,using hand tissues,touching a cell phone and so on,compared to those not wearing gloves.

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In fact,researchers found workers who wear gloves do not remove them and wash their hands as often as they should.

After more than two hours of wearing gloves,total bacteria on the wearer’s hands grow by one order of magnitude.

Another risk is breakage,often in the form of pinholes too small to be noticed.


To be fair,wearing gloves is not always easy. Latex glove wearers can develop skin redness,itching,rashes and allergies,encouraging some workers to skip the gloves.

Rubber gloves are too expensive to be used only once,and therefore must be effectively washed and sanitized for multiple use.

Washing and sanitizing is not often done correctly or on schedule.


The researchers concluded that gloves couldn’t be used as a stand-alone hygienic measure. The best defence against food contamination remains old-fashioned,frequent hand washing.

The findings were published in the ‘Journal of Food Protection’.

First published on: 28-10-2010 at 09:27 IST
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