Select a Category
FAQ - All Categories
When purchasing a disposable glove for the preparation of food, you should be assured of three points by the manufacturer:
- SAFETY -- Toxicology, Biocompatibility, Materials Specifications
- DURABILITY -- Barrier Integrity, Visual Inspection, Glove Powder, Labeling
- CLEANLINESS -- ISO Compliant, Bioburden, Annual Plant Audits
Yes! Some food employees or conditional employees may report a possible exposure to an agent. For example, a food employee may have attended a function at which the food employee ate food that was associated with an outbreak of shigellosis, but the employee remains well. Such individuals fall into the category of having had a potential exposure and present a lower risk to public health than someone who is either symptomatic or who has a definitive diagnosis. They present a level of risk to public health that is greater than if they had not had the exposure. The approach taken in the Food Code to food employees who have had a potential exposure is based on the incubation times (time between exposure and the onset of symptoms) of the various agents. The times chosen for restriction are the upper end of the average incubation periods for the specific agents. The reasoning is that this will restrict food employees only up to the time when it is unlikely they will develop symptoms. As a further protection to public health, it is recommended that such exposed food employees pay particular attention to personal hygiene and report the onset of any symptoms. This situation describes the fourth level of risk (lowest level of risk) in transmitting pathogens to food. Risk Levels 1, 2 and 3 will be discussed over the next few months. For further information on determining a restriction of an employee see Decision Tree 2 -- Annex 3 page 334 in the 2005 FDA Food Code.
Yes! The development and effective implementation of an employee health policy based on the provisions in Subpart 2-201 may help to prevent foodborne illness associated with contamination of food by ill or infected food employees. The person in charge and food employees should be familiar with and able to provide the following information through direct dialogue when interviewed by facility managers or regulatory officials. When designing and implementing an employee health policy, the following information should be considered and addressed:
- Does the establishment have an Employee Health Policy? If so, are the food employees aware of the employee health policy, and is it available in written format and readily available for food employees?
- Does the establishment require conditional employees and food employees to report certain illnesses, conditions, symptoms, and exposures?
- Are the reporting requirements explained to all employees?
- What are the reporting requirements for conditional employees, food employees, and the food establishment manager?
- Are conditional employees asked if they are experiencing certain symptoms or illnesses upon offer of employment? If so, which symptoms or illnesses?
- If a food employee reports a diagnosis with one of the 5 listed pathogens in the Food Code, what questions are asked of the food employee? (The first question every food manager should ask a food employee who reports diagnosis with a listed pathogen is if the employee is currently having any symptoms.)
- Who does the establishment notify when a food employee reports a diagnosis with one of the listed pathogens?
- What gastrointestinal symptoms would require exclusion of a food employee from the food establishment?
- What history of exposure is a conditional employee or food employee required to report?
- If a food employee reports a gastrointestinal symptom, what criteria are used to allow the employee to return to work?
NO! Title I of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA) prohibits medical examinations and inquiries as to the existence, nature, or severity of a disability before extending a conditional offer of employment. In order for the permit holder and the person in charge to be in compliance with this particular aspect of the Code and the ADA, a conditional job offer must be made before making inquiries about the applicant’s health status. When the conditional offer is made to the prospective employee you may then ask them detailed health questions. See Form 1-A in Annex 7. For more detailed information about the interaction between the FDA Food Code and the ADA, consult: How to Comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act: A Guide for Restaurants and Other Food Service Employers, found at www.eeoc.gov/facts/restaurant_guide.html or http://www.eeoc.gov/facts/restaurant_guide_summary.html
If a conditional employee reports a disease or symptom listed in the Food Code and shows that the disease or symptom makes the conditional employee an individual with an ADA disability, the employer may withdraw the job offer only if:
- The job involves food handling
- The employer determines that either there is no reasonable accommodation that would eliminate the risk of transmitting the disease through food, or any such accommodation would be an undue hardship to the business
- There is no need to offer the conditional employee a vacant position not involving food handling as a reasonable accommodation.
By using Decision Tree 1 (FDA Food Code Annex, Page 333) you will be able to resolve the issue of exclusion or restriction.
It is necessary to exclude food employees symptomatic with diarrhea, vomiting, or jaundice, or suffering from a disease likely to be transmitted through contamination of food, because of the increased risk that the food being prepared will be contaminated such as with a pathogenic microorganism. However, if the food employee is suffering from vomiting or diarrhea symptoms, and the condition is from a non-infectious condition, Crohn’s disease or an illness during early stages of a pregnancy, the risk of transmitting a pathogenic microorganism is minimal. In this case, the food employee may remain working in a full capacity if they can substantiate that the symptom is from a noninfectious condition. The food employee can substantiate this through providing to the person in charge medical documentation or other documentation proving that the symptom is from a noninfectious condition.
Follow this chart in determining your responsibilities as a Person in Charge. CHART IMAGE HSP – Highly Susceptible Populations RA – Regulatory Authority Food employees diagnosed with hepatitis A virus are always excluded if diagnosed within 14 days of exhibiting any illness symptom, until at least 7 days after the onset of jaundice, or until medically cleared as specified under subparagraphs 2-201.13(B)(1) - (4). Food employees diagnosed with hepatitis A virus are always excluded if diagnosed within 14 days of exhibiting any illness symptom, until at least 7 days after the onset of jaundice, or until medically cleared as specified under subparagraph 2-201.13(B)(1)-(3).
Absolutely! The hands are particularly important in transmitting foodborne pathogens. Food employees with dirty hands and/or fingernails may contaminate the food being prepared. Therefore, any activity which may contaminate the hands must be followed by thorough handwashing in accordance with the procedures outlined in the 2005 FDA Food Code. Even seemingly healthy employees may serve as reservoirs for pathogenic microorganisms that are transmissible through food. Staphylococci, for example, can be found on the skin and in the mouth, throat, and nose of many employees. The hands of employees can be contaminated by touching their nose or other body parts. Handwashing is a critical factor in reducing fecal-oral pathogens that can be transmitted from hands to RTE food as well as other pathogens that can be transmitted from environmental sources. Many employees fail to wash their hands as often as necessary and even those who do may use flawed techniques. Food employees shall use the following cleaning procedure in the order stated to clean their hands and exposed portions of their arms, including surrogate prosthetic devices for hands and arms:
- Rinse under clean, running warm water.
- Apply an amount of cleaning compound recommended by the cleaning compound manufacturer.
- Rub together vigorously for at least 10 to 15 seconds while: Paying particular attention to removing soil from underneath the fingernails during the cleaning procedure, and creating friction on the surfaces of the hands and arms or surrogate prosthetic devices for hands and arms, finger tips, and areas between the fingers.
- Thoroughly rinse under clean, running warm water.
- Immediately follow the cleaning procedure with thorough drying using a method as specified in the 2005 FDA Food Code. TO avoid re-contaminating their hands or surrogate prosthetic devices, food employees may use disposable paper towels or similar clean barriers when touching surfaces such as manually operated faucet handles on a handwashing sink or the handle of a restroom door. If approved and capable of removing the types of soils encountered in the food operations involved, an automatic handwashing facility may be used by food employees to clean their hands or surrogate prosthetic devices.
Absolutely! Let’s start with the criteria from the 2005 FDA Food Code. The hands may become contaminated when the food employee engages in specific activities. The increased risk of contamination requires handwashing immediately after the activities listed. The specific examples listed in this Code section are not intended to be all inclusive. Employees must wash their hands after any activity which may result in contamination of the hands. Food employees shall clean their hands and exposed portions of their arms immediately before engaging in food preparation including working with exposed food, clean equipment and utensils, and unwrapped single-service and single-use articles and:
- After touching bare human body parts other than clean hands and clean, exposed portions of arms.
- After using the toilet room.
- After caring for or handling service animals or aquatic animals.
- After coughing, sneezing, using a handkerchief or disposable tissue, using tobacco, eating, or drinking.
- After handling soiled equipment or utensils.
- During food preparation, as often as necessary to remove soil and contamination and to prevent cross contamination when changing tasks.
- When switching between working with raw food and working with ready-to-eat food.
- Before donning gloves for working with food.
- After engaging in other activities that contaminate the hands.
NO! Handwashing is the first and foremost preventative measure a food worker can do. Handwashing must always come first. Consider using hand sanitizer (hand antiseptic) and gloves as another layer of barrier protection when preparing ready to eat foods. The food code is very specific that hand antiseptics and gloves shall be applied only to hands that are cleaned as specified by the code.
Absolutely! The requirement for fingernails to be trimmed, filed, and maintained is designed to address both the cleanability of areas beneath the fingernails and the possibility that fingernails or pieces of the fingernails may end up in the food due to breakage. Failure to remove fecal material from beneath the fingernails after defecation can be a major source of pathogenic organisms. Ragged fingernails present cleanability concerns and may harbor pathogenic organisms. A food employee shall keep their fingernails trimmed, filed, and maintained so the edges and surfaces are cleanable and not rough. Unless wearing intact gloves in good repair, a food employee may not wear fingernail polish or artificial fingernails when working with exposed food.
Items of jewelry such as rings, bracelets, and watches may collect soil and the construction of the jewelry may hinder routine cleaning. As a result, the jewelry may act as a reservoir of pathogenic organisms transmissible through food. The term “jewelry” generally refers to the ornaments worn for personal adornment and medical alert bracelets do not fit this definition. However, the wearing of such bracelets carries the same potential for transmitting disease-causing organisms to food. If a food worker wears a medical alert or medical information bracelet, the conflict between this need and the Food Code’s requirements can be resolved through reasonable accommodation in accordance with the Americans with Disabilities Act. The person in charge should discuss the Food Code requirement with the employee and together they can work out an acceptable alternative to a bracelet. For example, the medical alert information could be worn in the form of a necklace or anklet to provide the necessary medical information without posing a risk to food. Alternatives to medical alert bracelets are available through a number of different companies (e.g., an internet search using the term “medical alert jewelry” leads to numerous suppliers). An additional hazard associated with jewelry is the possibility that pieces of the item or the whole item itself may fall into the food being prepared. Hard foreign objects in food may cause medical problems for consumers, such as chipped and/or broken teeth and internal cuts and lesions. Except for a plain ring such as a wedding band, while preparing food, food employees may not wear jewelry including medical information jewelry on their arms and hands.
Get the Right Fit: Glove size is important for safety and comfort. Select the right size for your hand—from small to extra large. Use gloves for designated food tasks only. Disposable gloves are task-specific and should never be worn continuously. Food contact gloves should not be used for non-food tasks such as handling money, garbage removal, cleaning surfaces, etc. The FDA code mandates no bare hand contact with ready-to-eat foods; therefore, use gloves with salad bar items, fruits, sandwiches, cooked foods, deli meats, cheeses, breads or ice. Use vinyl, synthetic or latex gloves when handling food near a heat source cooking area, rather than poly gloves, which are not resistant to heat. Non-latex gloves are recommended for food workers, to help avoid possible latex allergic reactions.
There are several decisions you’ll have to make first: What is the task? Where is the task being done? How long will the task take? Here are some suggestions:
POLY: Low-cost, loose-fitting gloves for light tasks that require changing gloves often.
Task: Regular Poly: Making sandwiches, bagging bagels, plate garnishing, pizza or taco preparation, silverware wrapping, filling ice buckets, food sampling, display case set-up or breakdown.
Task: Elbow-Length Poly: Mixing large containers of salad, breading chicken, bakery dough handling, reaching into deep food containers, emptying, cleaning, and re-assembling softserve ice milk machine. Do not use at heat source cooking areas—grill, fryer, broiler, oven.
VINYL: More durable, closer-fitting gloves for food processing and medium-duty food tasks requiring good dexterity and/or sensitivity; latex-free and appropriate for use near heat source.
Task: Regular Vinyl: Handling sliced cheese, grill line plating area, breakfast grill, cracking eggs, fresh squeezed juice prep, prep of cream-filled pies, pizzas, salads, tacos, ready-to-eat meats such as ham and tuna.
Task: Blue Vinyl: Seafood prep, sushi prep, peeling or dispensing shrimp, raw meat cutting, trimming produce, handling bone-in hams or smoked chops, meat grinder area, vacuum packaging area. Blue Vinyl gloves (color-coded to avoid cross-contamination, especially when handling raw meats and seafood). Avoid cross-contamination by changing gloves after handling raw meats, poultry and seafood.
LATEX: Ultra-formfitting gloves for tasks requiring ultimate dexterity. Use for delicate work requiring fingertip sensitivity.
Task: Handling, slicing, prep, mixture of ready-to-eat foods, cheese slicing area, grill line plating area, breakfast grill, cracking eggs, cake decorating, dough handling, plate garnishing, preparation of appetizer or veggie platters, vacuum packaging area. In case of a latex allergy consult a physician and use vinyl, nitrile, synthetic or poly gloves when handling ready-to-eat foods.
SYNTHETIC: Formfitting gloves for tasks requiring flexibility and dexterity. Use for delicate work requiring fingertip sensitivity. Feels and acts like latex. Ideal for latex sensitive workers.
Task: Handling, slicing, prep, mixture of ready-to-eat foods, slicer area of cheese, grill line plating area, breakfast grill, cracking eggs, cake decorating, dough handling, plate garnishing, preparation of appetizer or veggie platters, vacuum packaging area.
NITRILE: Synthetic disposable gloves for specific tasks requiring good puncture resistance and a high level of dexterity.
Task: Intricate garnishing, handling delicate foods, sushi preparation, de-boning meats, handling hot peppers or shellfish. Use in meat preparation area as this material is very resistant to breaking down when in contact with animal fats. Nitrile is a synthetic material resistant to snags, abrasions or tears.
GLOVE USE IN ITSELF DOES NOT GUARANTEE FOOD SAFETY. ALWAYS WASH HANDS BEFORE AND AFTER USING DISPOSABLE GLOVES.