Most people have some idea about what keeps their food safe. When people go out to eat, they don’t always have the opportunity to see how their food is being prepared. When they do, people often watch for safe food handling practices. At the Porcupine Health Unit, we often get complaints from people who observed an employee preparing their food without gloves on. Glove use in a food premise can lead to a false sense of security.
Every Ontario business that serves or sells food to the public must follow the requirements listed in the Ontario Food Premises Regulation. Believe it or not, this regulation does not require that employees wear gloves when preparing food, but some company policies do require food handlers to wear gloves.
Glove use does NOT replace hand washing. Employees must wash their hands with soap and water before they put the gloves on and after they take them off. Touching a clean glove with hands that have not been washed, will just spread germs from hands onto the glove, making the gloves no safer than the dirty hands. The only time that gloves must be worn is when an employee has a cut or infection on their hand. In this case, a bandage must be worn over the affected area and a glove worn over the bandage.
Gloves can pick up microorganisms the same way that hands do. Be sure to store new gloves in a sanitary manner and use new gloves each time you change tasks or when they have become contaminated.