Why Medical Grade Disposable Gloves Are Essential For Food Safety

Examination (medical) grade disposable gloves are produced for non-surgical medical procedures. However, because of their superior quality, examination gloves are now being used in many other industries, including food processing and handling.

What is an examination grade disposable glove?

Examination grade gloves have to pass a series of technical tests in order to meet the safety requirements specified by the FDA. Gloves are tested for their chemical substance resistance, and must meet physical performance requirements such as tension and elongation tests. Manufacturers of these gloves must receive 510k certification

Examination grade gloves must also have an AQL of 2.5 or less.

Why is AQL important?

The AQL of a disposable glove is the "Acceptable Quality Level" and refers to a quality standard for measuring pinhole defects.  Glove manufacturers test a random sample of gloves from a batch during initial production and test for subsequent pinhole defects.

The lower the AQL, the less defects the gloves have. An AQL of 1.5, for example, requires that gloves be manufactured with no more than 15 failures for every 1,000 gloves produced.  

Are food service gloves food safe?

In comparison, no formal government regulations or inspection program exists for food service gloves. The only requirements are that the components of the glove comply with the FDA regulations and the gloves consist of “Substances generally recognized as safe for use in food or food packaging.”

There is no AQL requirement for food service gloves, meaning there are no guidelines for maximum pinhole defects - no guidelines for the number of failures per box.


Why use examination grade gloves in food processing?

The answer to this is simple - to enhance your food safety programs and for the prevention of foodborne illnesses.  

It is estimated that around 90% of all disposable glove perforations during use go unnoticed or undetected. Consider that the human skin is a rich environment for microbes consisting of around 1,000 species, and the skin surface of human hands can contain on average from 2 million to 10 million microorganisms.

Organisms can become resident colonizers on hands, and combined with a glove puncture, what has been described as a “liquid bridge” of microbial contamination can flow to contact surfaces of food.

“Organisms can become resident colonizers on hands, and combined with a glove puncture, what has been described as a “liquid bridge” of microbial contamination can flow to contact surfaces of food.”

Therefore, when purchasing your food handling gloves it is imperative to know the AQL. The lower the AQL, number the higher the quality of barrier protection you will have for your hands and your food. 

What you need to consider when procuring your disposable gloves for food handling:

  1. Know the AQL test results - do you know how many glove defects your disposable gloves have?

  2. Only choose disposable gloves that have an AQL of 2.5 or less - pay for gloves that are suitable for food handling

  3. Beware of cheap imports which may be reject clearance lines - you may be paying for glove failures and the potential spread of bacteria and virus

  4. Only buy from reputable suppliers with quality control procedures in place

Protecting your food from bacteria and viral transfer from a gloved hand is essential. Foodborne illnesses can financially cripple any food handling business found to have spread the disease. Are you willing to take this chance with inferior gloves?

Eagle Protect supplies responsibly sourced disposable gloves, which exceed examination grade requirements for AQL, providing your workers and your food with a superior quality of barrier protection against bacteria and virus.

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Full details and references for all the information included here can be found in the complete Glove Hazard Analysis & Mitigation Strategies White Paper written by Barry Michaels and Professor Christopher Griffith. Contact us for more information.

Lynda Ronaldson Author

Written by: Lynda Ronaldson, VP Marketing

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