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Foodborne Illness Pathogens And Fecal Contaminants Found On New Disposable Gloves

New results of microbial testing of the surfaces of unused disposable gloves, in association with Eagle Protect PBC, the USA branch of Eagle Protect NZ, have found bacterial genera and species specific to foodborne illnesses (FBI), food spoilage and skin infections. Strains of these microorganisms of concern were present on new and unused disposable gloves currently being used in the US food industry, and in some cases as medical exam gloves. Twenty-five (25) different brands of gloves were analysed, providing specific profiles in respect to their manufacturing standards, or lack thereof. Food, dermal and respiratory pathogens as well as spoilage species were linked to the use of polluted water sources; sewage (fecal pollution); and human and animal gut bacteria introduced into glove production environments.

“Strictly speaking, FDA compliance for food contact gloves does not mean gloves are clean or even intact and food safe,” said Steve Ardagh, Chief Executive Officer of specialist glove supplier Eagle Protect. “We have visited factories reusing dirty water during manufacturing, and packing gloves in open walled, dirty environments.”

Disposable gloves used in the US food industry are generally manufactured in Southeast Asia. Global manufacturing companies chase the lowest cost of production to satisfy shareholder demands, and those of glove suppliers and end-users who want the lowest price possible. This can cause links in the supply chain to suffer, leading to unsanitary and inferior manufacturing standards which allow the survival of potential microbial contaminants on both the inside of gloves (user-relevant) and on the outside food contact surfaces of gloves.

Eagle has partnered with Barry Michaels, renowned international scientific consultant on food safety, to develop appropriate test methods and protocols. Until now, there has been limited knowledge on glove contamination at production. The microbial analysis is one of five independent tests developed and undertaken in Eagle Protect proprietary Five Pillars of Safety Fingerprint Check process, developed to further protect its customers’ food safety programs. “Eagle’s multi-stage third-party testing ensures our gloves are produced in clean factories with rigorous quality control procedures in place, and are free from dangerous levels of pathogen contamination,” Ardagh explains.

Click here to view the contamination results on a single-use glove.

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