How to Use Disposable Gloves Properly in Food Service

Chopping cucumbers with knife

Single-use gloves have become a symbol of food safety, but they can inspire a false sense of security. Using disposable gloves should be an addition, not a substitute, for proper hand washing. 

The 2013 Food Code, section 3-301.11 states:

“Except when washing fruits and vegetables, food employees may not contact exposed ready to eat food with their bare hands and shall use suitable utensils such as deli tissue, spatulas, tongs, single use gloves, or dispensing equipment”.

Ready-to-eat food means food that is in a form that is edible without additional preparation to achieve food safety.

Single-use gloves are just that- made for a single use. The longer gloves are worn, the more likely their effectiveness as a barrier will deteriorate. Employees should ideally replace their gloves every two hours at minimum to guard against possible unseen punctures. Always change gloves if the gloves are ripped, torn, contaminated, or if you are changing to a different food task.

It is critical to ensure that employees properly wash their hands before putting on gloves and immediately after removing them. Gloves are meant to prevent bare hand contact with food that will be served to consumers. Many food service employees falsely think gloves are protecting their own hands. Single-use gloves are to help reduce the spread of disease causing organisms when used appropriately.

It is important for employees to know that single use gloves can offer additional food protection, if placed on washed hands and changed at appropriate times during the food operation. 

When to Change Disposable Gloves

  • As soon as they become soiled or torn
  • Before beginning a different task
  • At least every four hours during continual use, and more often if necessary
  • After handling raw meat, seafood, or poultry and before handling ready-to-eat food

For More Information

Contact the Gordon Food Service Nutrition Resource Center at for assistance with your food-safety questions or concerns.

Are you a Gordon Food Service customer? Log into Gordon Experience to view additional food safety resources.

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