Choosing the Right Glove for Food Handlers

Categories Business Tips

With such a wide array of gloves to use in the food service industry, how do you determine which glove is right for which job?

Polyethylene Gloves

Polyethylene is a type of synthetic rubber that is ideal for light-duty tasks that do not require a lot of manual dexterity.

They make an economical choice for food handlers as they are the least expensive of all glove types.

Available in various density forms, poly gloves offer a looser fit than other gloves such as nitrile, latex, and vinyl.

The advantages they offer is comfort, tactile sensitivity, and breathability.

They are also latex-free which helps to reduce the incidence of potential allergic reactions.

Some poly gloves also offer antimicrobial compounds. However, this benefit may be limited due to the short amount of time the gloves are actually worn.

The downsides of poly gloves is they need to be changed often and so their use may be restricted to only a few minutes at a time.

PE gloves also tear quite easily and are not ideal for use around high heat or hazardous materials.


  • Making sandwiches
  • Portioning out meat and cheeses
  • Food service counter

Vinyl Gloves

Polyvinyl chloride gloves are an acceptable alternative to latex gloves, and are available in powder and powder-free form.

Although, the powder-free version is probably the best choice in the food service industry. They are also less expensive than nitrile and latex gloves.

Vinyl gloves offer a superior fit, comfort, and durability. They are a great choice for food preparation tasks as they boast excellent fingertip sensitivity and abrasion resistance. They are also less prone to melting when used around heat sources.

Although vinyl gloves offer a high level of durability, they are still not recommended for work with hazardous materials. There is also a chance of small rips when the glove is stretched beyond its normal use.


  • Variety of food preparation tasks
  • Cutting fruits and vegetables
  • Plating
  • Fast food preparation

Latex Gloves

Although latex gloves were the considered the gold standard for many years in the food service world, the increase in potential latex allergic reactions has limited its use with food preparation.

Offering a high degree of dexterity, snugness, and comfort, latex gloves outshine other gloves in this capacity.

This dexterity plays an important role in reducing hand fatigue when worn for extended periods of time and offers the best barrier protection.

Unfortunately, these gloves are better suited for non-food related tasks due to the risk of latex proteins being sloughed off into the food product.

The risk of allergic reactions are too high. Latex gloves also tend to be easily degraded by oils and alcohol.


Non-food related tasks

Nitrile Gloves

Initially developed as a replacement for latex, nitrile gloves are fast becoming a necessity in the kitchen.

Besides a high level of durability and puncture resistance, their greatest strength lies in their ability to withstand degradation when working with animal fats, citrus fruit, and oils.

Nitrile gloves offer a snug, comfortable fit, and excellent tactile sensitivity.

Like other gloves, nitrile gloves are still susceptible to breakdown when exposed to alcohol.

They also tend to rip easily once the glove has been breached and damaged in some way.


  • Variety of food service tasks
  • Handling raw meats, poultry, and fruit



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