Handwashing, Gloving, and Disease Transmission by the Food Preparer

Authored by: Daryl S. Paulson

Handbook of Topical Antimicrobials

Print publication date:  September  2002
Online publication date:  September  2002

Print ISBN: 9780824707880
eBook ISBN: 9780203909256
Adobe ISBN:


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One of the most controversial issues in the food industry is the “bare hands” legislation that prohibits bare-hand contact with ready-to-eat foods. Advocates of this legislation argue that because vinyl gloves provide a microbiologically impenetrable physical barrier between food workers’ hands and the food they handle, and because a significant number of food workers do not wash their hands adequately to remove potentially pathogenic microorganisms, wearing gloves should be mandatory. On the other hand, opponents argue that an effective handwash is sufficient and glove-wearing is not necessary because the wash removes the disease-causing microorganisms from the hands. Additionally, they argue that relying on a glove barrier to prevent disease is unwise because tears and rips to gloves are common. The tears and rips will readily allow microorganisms to pass through the gloves and onto the food. Both views are correct, but only partially so.

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