Best Disposable Gloves for Cooking
Did you know that an estimated 128,000 people in the U.S. are hospitalized each year due to foodborne illnesses? It’s one of the worst ways to end a meal--and the worse part is that it’s entirely preventable.
Whether you’re a home cook or a professional chef, it pays to wear the right pair of gloves.
Here’s a look at the best disposable gloves for cooking (based on our research) as well as some tips on how you can choose the perfect gloves for the occasion.
The Most Common Misconception About Gloves in Food Preparation
First, let’s address the most common misconception about gloves and food handling: that gloves are used to protect the worker. This may be true in your own kitchen at home, but it’s not the primary reason for wearing disposable gloves during food preparation.
The primary purpose of wearing disposable gloves is to prevent cross-contamination, the transfer of harmful bacteria from one person, place, or object to another. This often happens when switching between work tasks in a kitchen, such as preparing raw meat and preparing vegetables.
To be clear, gloves are not a catchall. The FDA is crystal clear about the need to use gloves properly, stating that gloves may actually be a source of cross contamination if used improperly.
However, the Food Code of 2017 makes the rules quite clear: workers are not allowed to touch exposed, ready-to-eat food with their bare hands and must instead use suitable utensils such as tongs, a spatula, and single-use gloves.
In other words? If you’re handling food in a professional context, you need to wear gloves.
Types of Disposable Gloves
In general, there are three main types of disposable gloves: nitrile gloves, latex gloves, and vinyl gloves. Of the three, nitrile (a synthetic rubber copolymer) is the most durable. Latex affords the best tactile sensitivity. Vinyl is the best choice for a cheap, basic sanitary protective layer.
Nitrile gloves and vinyl gloves can be allergen friendly if they’re marked as latex-free and powder-free. Latex gloves offer a few more complications, since you don’t know whether or not your customers have latex allergies. On the other hand, latex was long the most popular glove choice because it preserves a great deal of manual dexterity and tactile sensitivity.
How to Choose the Best Gloves for Food Prepping
So, what are the best disposable gloves for food handling? Like anything else, it often comes down to the task in question.
For example, some food handling requires only basic sanitary protection. Other types of food preparation may require more manual dexterity and protection against punctures (such as knife handling). As such, there is no perfect glove for food prep, but some options are better than others.
Here’s how to find the right fit.
Think About the Protection You Need
The best place to start is to think about the type of protection you need. Where cooking is concerned, this is usually the choice between a basic sanitary layer to prevent cross contamination and a hardier protective layer to protect your hands from sharps injuries.
A basic sanitary layer would typically apply when you’re working with food that’s ready to eat or has already been prepared, such as chopped vegetables that are about to be cooked. In this case, your primary concern is preventing the spread of bacteria from one food item to another, or preventing the spread of bacteria from your hands to a customer.
On the other hand, if you know you’ll be working with sharp utensils or equipment, such as chopping knives, you’ll need a glove that’s designed to withstand punctures. In this case, you need the glove to be strong enough to prevent the knife or equipment from cutting through and injuring your hand.
This is important because it changes the right glove material for the job. If you need a basic sanitary layer, you’ll be best served by vinyl gloves. On the other hand, if you need a durable glove, nitrile gloves are the best choice.
Think About Allergens
Since you’re handling food that others will eat, it’s also important to think about allergens.
In this case, latex gloves are ruled out automatically. You have no way of knowing if your customer has a latex allergy, and it’s better to avoid taking the chance.
However, there are vinyl and nitrile gloves that are more allergen-friendly than others. For example, some manufacturers add latex to their gloves to make the material stretchier, and many manufacturers put powder inside latex-free gloves to make it easier to take the gloves on and off. Since you’re worried about allergens, you should stick to latex-free and powder-free gloves.
Nail Down Glove Sizing
Last but not least, pay attention to sizing.
You’ll need two measurements: measure around the widest part of your hand (excluding your thumb) and from the base of your palm to the tip of your middle finger. Take the larger of the two and look at a size chart to determine sizing.
That said, if you’re worried about fine motor skills for food presentation and you have to choose between two measurements, opt for the smaller one for your fingers. This will avoid any extra space in the tips of your fingers.
The Best Disposable Gloves for Cooking: Nitrile or Vinyl
Overall, the verdict is simple. The best disposable cooking gloves are nitrile (for durability) or vinyl (for the basics). Better still? When you shop with us, you can find a great pair of gloves for everyone on your team.
Durable Disposable Gloves That Can Keep Up with Your Kitchen
Whether you’re looking for nitrile gloves or vinyl gloves, we have a great selection of comfortable disposable gloves at competitive prices that work for you. That way, you can always focus on what matters most: giving your customers a great dining experience every single time.
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