The Un(der)-Regulated Threat to US Food

A recent presentation by Barry Michaels at the Food Safety Consortium in Chicago highlighted an unregulated and high-risk zone to the US food industry - disposable gloves and their manufacturing processes.  

Contact polymers are found in both food packaging and disposable gloves - but, only those in food packaging are regulated and monitored. 87% of the production of packaging polymers is based in the US and follows strict FDA regulation and monitoring. Toxicology of food packaging is subject to strict enforcement action from production to storage.


  • 60 million tons used
  • ~600 factories: 87% US, 13% China,
    Canada, Mexico, Thailand, Germany
  • FDA regulated & monitored


  • 22 billion pairs used
  • ~100+ factories, 100% in SE Asia
  • Bioterrorism risks extensive
  • Life sciences governance lacking

In contrast, 100% of glove factories supplying the US food industry are based in Southeast Asia and are not subjected to rigorous FDA monitoring or scrutiny. There are few controls required for glove manufacturing in relation to the reliability and consistency of raw material ingredients, manufacturing processes and factory compliance. Read more about FDA Title 21 CFR Part 177 and what this actually means for “compliant” food contact gloves, and the opportunity for deliberate or accidental contamination within the glove manufacturing process.

Barry Michaels Presenting Unregulated food polymers

Disposable gloves and their manufacturing processes are an obvious but little accounted for risk to the US food sector. Recent scientific research has highlighted how critical disposable gloves are to food safety, with the latest data implicating glove polymers in 15-18% of all US foodborne illness incidents.

In order to mitigate these risks, a preventive control systems must be adopted. Read more about Eagle’s third-party verification process of glove analysis, in order to reduce the risks associated with physical, chemical and microbiological hazards of disposable gloves.

Don’t let disposable gloves be a risk to your food safety, contact us now to find out how we can supply you certified food safe products.

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