Each September, the National Restaurant Association celebrates National Food Safety Month as a way to increase awareness and education about proper food handling. The event was established in 1994 and recently passed its 20-year anniversary. This educational event raises visibility about food safety, and it’s also a great opportunity to sell more gloves. Restaurants and other food service venues all have a large number of staff who need disposable gloves for safe food handling. Thus, the food industry represents a great opportunity for glove sales. In 2012, glove revenue from this industry reached $3.3 billion and will grow 29 percent to $4.3 billion in glove revenue opportunity by 2022. Throughout September, AMMEX will support NFSM and help to educate buyers regarding the uses of gloves.
Food safety in restaurants
The NRA comprises 970,000 restaurant and food service outlets in the U.S., covering a workforce of close to 13 million employees. The term food service also applies to any environment in which food is served, including sit-down restaurants, food trucks, college cafeterias, and more. If staff members handle or serve food, it is a food service establishment, which means they need to be aware of proper sanitation and hygiene guidelines.
“All food service environments need to be prudent about containing possible pathogens.”
Despite the wide variety of businesses and organizations that are in the food service industry, they all have one thing in common: the need to be prudent about containing possible pathogens and protecting employees and consumers from illnesses. Disposable gloves are among the first line of defense against foodborne illnesses like salmonella, as well as bacteria that may be transferred to food through contamination, such as E.coli or hepatitis A. That’s why the NRA’s NFSM event is so important: It helps food service organizations prevent foodborne pathogens.
Every year, NFSM designates five educational topics: one for each week in September. This year’s educational theme is “Let It Flow,” which focuses on the movement of food through the restaurant and preventing contamination issues at each stage. Here are the topics the month-long event will cover:
- Week one: Receiving
- Week two: Storage
- Week three: Thawing and Holding
- Week four: Preparation
- Week five: Service
Food service establishments will learn each week about a different step and best practices to ensure the food remains safe to eat. At each stage, gloves help staff prevent contamination and cross-contamination of ingredients.
Gloves in food service
In addition to best practices offered by the NRA, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has several rules regarding the necessity of gloves for food contact. These rules are in place to protect both workers in food processing and consumers.
- Workers must minimize bare hand and arm contact with exposed food that is not ready to eat.
- Gloves or utensils such as tongs and spatulas must be used for contact with exposed, ready-to-eat foods except when washing fruits and vegetables.
- Gloves are used for a single task and must be discarded when workers switch to a new task, the gloves become soiled or the task is interrupted.
- The FDA also requires all food processing employees wash their hands. This step reduces the chance of contamination because it prevents pathogens and other hazardous materials from touching the inside of the glove – one of many best practices for donning gloves.
The right gloves for the right job
Food service positions, while they all require some sort of glove, involve handling different ingredients and kitchen equipment. Moreover, individual positions within the organization require unique gloves depending on the scope of the job. Polyvinyl chloride (PVC) and vinyl gloves are common throughout the industry because of their relatively low cost and the loose fit, which makes them easier to don and doff. These features are important in food service, where workers have to change gloves frequently.
Vinyl’s advantage over poly is that it conforms to the hand more closely, increasing dexterity. Employees are also able to obtain extra protection with AMMEX Anti-Microbial Vinyl Gloves, which have built in antimicrobial agents to prevent organisms from growing and help prevent cross-contamination.
However, food service establishments should not feel the need to limit themselves to vinyl. Other glove materials are equally useful in this industry. Why not consider a premium glove, such as nitrile or latex? Both materials provide superior dexterity, as well as greater puncture resistance vinyl.
AMMEX’s X3 Series provides a number of options for food service applications. This lineup includes the following gloves:
- Xtreme X3 Nitrile Gloves: Microtexture enhances gripping power in wet and dry conditions, and these gloves provide three times the puncture resistance of latex. Xtreme X3 Nitrile Gloves also feature chemical resistance and are FDA approved for food service.
- X3 Black Nitrile Gloves: These gloves have all the same benefits as X3 Nitrile, with a classic black color that provides a professional appearance.
- GPX3 Vinyl Gloves: GPX3 Vinyl Gloves are low-cost and loose-fitting for light duty applications where employees change gloves repeatedly.
- LX3 Latex Gloves: These latex gloves are lightweight, provide superior puncture resistance than vinyl and offer more elasticity than nitrile.
GPX3, X3, and BX3 gloves also come with a choice of 200 gloves per box, which adds up to 2000 gloves per case. Buying larger numbers of gloves at once means you spend less on packaging and replace boxes half as often.
No matter what the application or the needs of your staff, AMMEX has a glove that fits. Be sure to follow along with us through the month of September and show your support by using the hashtags #FoodSafetyMonth and #LetItFlow2015.