Gloves & working with food

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bogleviewer
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Gloves & working with food

Post by bogleviewer » Wed Oct 30, 2013 11:02 am

I've been watching some of the "Undercover Boss" television series which features a boss that goes and works front-line positions to 'understand their business better'.

I've noticed that consistently the employees of restaurants are touching a lot of surfaces other than food with their gloved hands. For example, someone working the tortilla wrap station where they wrap the burritos reaches out, with gloves on, and shakes the boss' hand, then continues to wrap tortillas.

Also it will show people fiddling around with their gloves to get them on their hands with no footage of them thoroughly washing their hands prior to attempting to put the gloves on.

Recently I asked an employee at my local sub shop to go and wash his hands again and put on new gloves as I saw him adjust his hat with his gloved hand.

I may not want to know the real answer behind this, but isn't touching the glove to put it on (with unclean hands) or touching surfaces such as cloth, skin, etc. essentially contaminating the glove and therefore serving no purpose? Or do bugs have a hard time sticking to gloves? Or is there some other reason such as skin contact, sweat on skin, fingernails, etc that is the purpose for gloves?

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Re: Gloves & working with food

Post by livesoft » Wed Oct 30, 2013 11:05 am

I'm laughing out loud because of all the decades that folks in food service did not use gloves. This is only a very recent development ... I'm thinking the last ten years. I worked in food service and never used gloves. I worked in a hospital and never used gloves then as well.

Let me ask you this: Do you put on your gloves when you eat?

PS: I often work in a research lab and I use gloves all the time then, but I don't want to contaminate my experiments. I am not worried about the reverse: my experiments contaminating my hands.
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VictoriaF
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Re: Gloves & working with food

Post by VictoriaF » Wed Oct 30, 2013 11:06 am

What if the deli employee puts on the gloves in front of you and spits in your sandwich behind your back?

Victoria
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EagertoLearnMore
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Re: Gloves & working with food

Post by EagertoLearnMore » Wed Oct 30, 2013 11:09 am

I agree with you regarding the use of gloves and touching non-food objects. At Subway the person making the sandwiches always removes the gloves to take the money and then puts on fresh gloves for the next sandwich. Money is handled by so many people that it contains too many microbes for my taste. Also, the person should not touch their face or hair while preparing the food. Good for you for speaking up.

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Cautious Optimist
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Re: Gloves & working with food

Post by Cautious Optimist » Wed Oct 30, 2013 11:23 am

An interesting post, as I'm probably overly paranoid and very conscious of whether my food handler is using bare skin or gloves, and whether said gloves are clean or not (and of course who knows how food is handled in a kitchen out of view). Having said that I've been eating out for years and have never gotten sick from it, yet I'm also sure that at some point along the way, someone, somewhere did something to my food (intentionally or not) that had I known it, I wouldn't have eaten it.

My point: sometimes what you don't know can't hurt.

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dm200
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Re: Gloves & working with food

Post by dm200 » Wed Oct 30, 2013 11:24 am

VictoriaF wrote:What if the deli employee puts on the gloves in front of you and spits in your sandwich behind your back?

Victoria
My fear & concern EXACTLY!

A long time ago, I heard this advice (with some 'war stories') - NEVER anger anyone who prepares your food or handles your paycheck!

Speaking of gloves, in recent years almost any kind of medical person almost always wears gloves - from the person taking blood for lab tests to physicians - and so on. About 6 or 7 years ago, I had several treadmill stress tests [with 20/20 hindsight - completely medically unnecessary - but that is another story] where they put in an IV - and injected some sort of radioactive element during the treadmill exercise to do a scan of my heart. I recall (same technician both times, about a year apart) that the guy who put the needle into the vein of my arm was wearing gloves - BUT he had the tip of his index finger on one hand bare (cut off the glove finger end) so he could get a better feel of the vein to insert the needle. I thought that to be very odd indeed.

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Re: Gloves & working with food

Post by Call_Me_Op » Wed Oct 30, 2013 11:26 am

The answer is one you do not want to hear. Of course germs can thrive on latex or nylon gloves. Mostly what is saving you is your immune system, which is constantly dealing with germs. If your immune system is not working optimally and/or a particularly nasty germ gets into your mouth in sufficient quantity, you can become ill.

I have found that food service workers are very inconsistent in terms of wearing and replacing gloves - and many appear not to understand that it is not their skin (per se) that is the concern but germs, which can live on gloves as easily as on skin.
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Epsilon Delta
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Re: Gloves & working with food

Post by Epsilon Delta » Wed Oct 30, 2013 11:27 am

I volunteered a couple of weekends at a food booth at a public event. The local health inspectors gave a briefing to all the volunteers and did spot checks throughout the event. They seemed interested in education and improving food handling rather than fining or shutting people down. They also gave the impression that their aim was to make things better, rather than perfect.

Many of the things they suggested would please the OP. Don't touch raw chicken. Change gloves often. Wash hands often, with soap, while singing happy birthday. Don't wear gloves to handle money or other non-food objects. Don't touch the chicken. Use tongs or forks if possible. Wash the tongs or forks in bleach or other disinfectant. Don't touch raw chicken. Keep the chicken (raw and cooked) away from everything else. Use new gloves every time (some people would save used gloves for later use, a big no-no). Don't touch raw chicken. They also helped us reorganize the serving procedure to reduce the risk of cross contamination, this also helped speed up service.

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fandango
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Re: Gloves & working with food

Post by fandango » Wed Oct 30, 2013 11:29 am

How about this:

Recently got a flu shot. The nurse wiped my arm with a cotton ball that had alcohol on it.

Then, she BLEW on my arm to help the alcohol evaporate.

Before I could say anything, she jammed the needle into my arm in the exact same spot where she had just blown all of her germs on.

Is this approved medical practice?

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Re: Gloves & working with food

Post by wintermute » Wed Oct 30, 2013 11:35 am

Call_Me_Op wrote:I have found that food service workers are very inconsistent in terms of wearing and replacing gloves - and many appear not to understand that it is not their skin (per se) that is the concern but germs, which can live on gloves as easily as on skin.
I once saw a woman wipe her nose with her gloved finger, then go right back to making subs. I wondered if she thought the gloves were to protect her hands from the food, but more likely there was no thought or awareness of food safety at all.

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Re: Gloves & working with food

Post by The Wizard » Wed Oct 30, 2013 11:48 am

Gloves for cooking are totally not needed.
Just wash your hands before handling food and after any compromising situations.
And dip all raw chicken in bleach...
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Bogle101
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Re: Gloves & working with food

Post by Bogle101 » Wed Oct 30, 2013 11:52 am

My advice to you is to not eat anything that you do not personally prepare in your contamination free kitchen in your sterile apartment.
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Mister Whale
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Re: Gloves & working with food

Post by Mister Whale » Wed Oct 30, 2013 11:52 am

As someone who has 25 years experience in the food industry (working with the ever-changing food safety regulatory machine), I can emphatically state that gloves are primarily to present the *appearance* of sanitation. Secondary beneficiaries include the glove manufacturers and the owners of landfills everywhere.

If the person who is preparing your food does not have clean hands when they put the gloves on, whatever contaminant is on their hands will now be on the glove.

If the person who is preparing your food is wearing gloves and soils the gloves, the gloves will then be as contaminated as if the person were never wearing gloves.

The consistent presence of gloves is only an indication that the shop has an interest keeping up the appearances of playing the "safety game" and nothing more. Most restaurants do, as their local health permit depends upon it.

From my perspective, if one extrapolates the last 20 years worth of food safety regulations into the future then by 2021 all perishable food will have to be kept at 32.01 degrees Fahrenheit, hands will have to be washed, dried, sanitized and re-gloved after every single instance of contact with an individual food type, and individuals will not be allowed to transport their own groceries without an affidavit stating that the air conditioning in the transportation vehicle can keep the food at the aforementioned 32.01 degrees Fahrenheit. (Apologies if this last sentence is not 'actionable.')
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Re: Gloves & working with food

Post by The Wizard » Wed Oct 30, 2013 11:59 am

Well stated, Whale baby...
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sscritic
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Re: Gloves & working with food

Post by sscritic » Wed Oct 30, 2013 11:59 am

Bogle101 wrote:My advice to you is to not eat anything that you do not personally prepare in your contamination free kitchen in your sterile apartment.
Wearing two pairs of gloves, so the contamination on the outer glove can't get to the inner glove. The goal is to get the contamination into your mouth while never touching your skin.

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Re: Gloves & working with food

Post by Mudpuppy » Wed Oct 30, 2013 12:38 pm

I'd be more concerned with how the shop stores and handles the food in general than with the state of the gloves for the front-line workers. Case in point, there is a fast food place near work that we've all stopped going to because it's become clear that they aren't following corporate standards for storing and handling food. Obviously "past its prime" produce, like wilted and browned lettuce, is served to people. When their AC was broken and it was over 100F inside the shop, they stayed open for the multiple days it took to repair the AC and just kept pouring ice over the perishables (the chips, brownies, cookies, and other "non-perishables" were left to swelter). Even simple mishandling occurs there, like the pre-baked cookies are not kept frozen until the day they are served, so you get stale cookies most of the time.

They also have issues with keeping their gloves clean, but really that's pretty far down on the list of problems. My primary concern with the gloves is you see them go from making a potato salad or tuna melt to making a regular salad without even swapping gloves, so now the lettuce bin has a bunch of mayo/egg/fish residue all over it. And that's a repeated problem, because one of the reasons we stopped going there at work was due to the finger-blobs of mystery stuff in our food from dirty glove cross-contamination. And asking them to put on clean gloves to make your food doesn't get rid of the previous dirty glove blobs in the ingredients bins.

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Re: Gloves & working with food

Post by VictoriaF » Wed Oct 30, 2013 1:12 pm

sscritic wrote:
Bogle101 wrote:My advice to you is to not eat anything that you do not personally prepare in your contamination free kitchen in your sterile apartment.
Wearing two pairs of gloves, so the contamination on the outer glove can't get to the inner glove. The goal is to get the contamination into your mouth while never touching your skin.
The gloves must be color coded as "outer" and "inner." Without color coding, you could accidentally swap the outer and inner gloves, and the "hand" side of the inner glove would touch the "food" side of the outer glove.

Victoria
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Re: Gloves & working with food

Post by SHB » Wed Oct 30, 2013 1:22 pm

I think if you are fixated on the glove issue you may want to look into how your food is picked, proccessed, packaged, delivered and stored on site to gain a bit more perspective of how your food is handled.

Short story: gloves just give the apperance of sanitation, its like a warm blanket that you think protects you...In actuality whats happened to your food before before the gloves (or lack ther of) have touched it would suprise you and 99.9% of the time its fine.
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dm200
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Re: Gloves & working with food

Post by dm200 » Wed Oct 30, 2013 1:24 pm

According to many things I read about food safety, one of the common problems many individuals introduce at all sorts of functions/events/preparation is getting the raw/uncooked "stuff" mixed with the final food that is consumed. I see it commonly where raw chicken on a plate or platter is taken to the grill - the chicken cooked on the grill - then the cooked chicken put back on the same plate. Same thing with the same utensil being used to touch the raw chicken - then used to put the cooked chicken on the serving plate.

I guess being a vegetarian might reduce that risk - but these folks might use the contaminated plate/utensils with raw chicken juice for the veggie burgers!

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Re: Gloves & working with food

Post by sscritic » Wed Oct 30, 2013 1:30 pm

SHB wrote:I think if you are fixated on the glove issue you may want to look into how your food is picked, proccessed, packaged, delivered and stored on site to gain a bit more perspective of how your food is handled.
Or grown. Salmonella gets in your spinach from watering the fields with runoff from cow pastures, not from the workers not wearing gloves.

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Re: Gloves & working with food

Post by Mrs.Feeley » Wed Oct 30, 2013 2:14 pm

As someone who worked as a waitress 40 years ago what I'd like to know is what happened to hairnets? Those little paper hats don't do a darn thing as far as keeping hair out of food. And what's the deal with allowing food servers to serve food without keeping their hair tied back and covered?

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Re: Gloves & working with food

Post by Fallible » Wed Oct 30, 2013 2:27 pm

SHB wrote:I think if you are fixated on the glove issue you may want to look into how your food is picked, proccessed, packaged, delivered and stored on site to gain a bit more perspective of how your food is handled.
...
And also take a look at what can happen in kitchens everywhere (yikes!):

http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/08/2 ... -bay/?_r=0
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Re: Gloves & working with food

Post by BuckyBadger » Wed Oct 30, 2013 2:28 pm

Meh.

I understand the risk of cross contamination from raw meats, but other than that I'm just not that worried. I think in general that people are too obsessed with hand sanitizer and disinfecting wipes. When I was a kid I ate dirt and stuck rocks in my mouth. People didn't wear gloves while preparing my food. That's what immune systems are for, and if you never let yours do any work for itself it's not going to be there when you actually need it for something. I like to allow my immune system to get out and stretch its legs every once in a while. I don't want my (hypothetical future) kids to live in a bubble because they've never gotten a bug or a germ in their (hypothetical) little systems.

CAVEAT: I work in a hospital and sanitize the holy hell out of my hands because I work with sick people who already have compromised immune systems. But for the average family member, a few germs aren't going to kill you.

And as we know, what doesn't kill you makes you stronger. ;-)

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Re: Gloves & working with food

Post by frugaltype » Wed Oct 30, 2013 2:29 pm

I stopped worrying about this some years ago, when I read government standards for how many roach parts are allowed in canned food.

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Re: Gloves & working with food

Post by sscritic » Wed Oct 30, 2013 2:51 pm

A local station in LA did an expose on food preparation back in the day that led to the enactment of restaurant grading in LA County. My favorite undercover video was of the cook smoking. Since his hands were busy, he couldn't flick the ash off, so he just let it fall into the food.

That was one of my favorite restaurants, and I kept going. I figured the heat from the burning tobacco killed any bacteria, so I was completely safe.

P.S. When I made spaghetti sauce when my children were young, I always told them of the secret ingredient. The secret ingredient were the little black flecks of burnt sauce that were created when I was too lazy to stir. It was just another form of ash, and it lent extra flavor to the sauce. I still make my spaghetti sauce with the secret ingredient.

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dm200
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Re: Gloves & working with food

Post by dm200 » Wed Oct 30, 2013 3:08 pm

On the one hand, in recent years I have come to believe there is more risk in food contamination of the kinds discussed here. On the other hand, unless I become a complete hermit and never eat anything not 100% prepared myself (or while I watch), I can not avoid all such risk. So, once I decide to eat anything with any such risk, I do everything I can to just block out all thoughts of what "might" have happened. So far, as best I can determine, nothing bad has happened to me.

I also believe, to a considerable degree, that living a healthful lifestyle overall reduces my risk of suffering the consequences of such "contamination" - certainly not 100%, but some significant percentage. I tend to believe as well that, for various reasons, different individuals have different sensitivity to this problem.

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fandango
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Re: Gloves & working with food

Post by fandango » Wed Oct 30, 2013 3:22 pm

I used to travel a lot internationally as part of my job.

My rules when traveling outside the country:

1. I do not eat insects.

2. All my food must be cooked (no salads, fresh vegetables fresh fruit, etc.)

I never had a major intestinal blow out like many of my colleagues.

I thinking about applying the same rules when I eat out in the US.

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Re: Gloves & working with food

Post by ieee488 » Wed Oct 30, 2013 3:26 pm

fandango wrote:I used to travel a lot internationally as part of my job.

My rules when traveling outside the country:

1. I do not eat insects.

2. All my food must be cooked (no salads, fresh vegetables fresh fruit, etc.)

I never had a major intestinal blow out like many of my colleagues.

I thinking about applying the same rules when I eat out in the US.
My mom doesn't like to eat salads when eating out.
Me, I still will get the salad at Wendys or Panera Bread.
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Re: Gloves & working with food

Post by Achelois » Wed Oct 30, 2013 3:33 pm

Hospital employees, for the most part, are wearing gloves to protect themselves from you and your body fluids. Occasionally, one will expose a fingertip if he or she is having trouble feeling a vein. In surgery, of course, or doing some sterile procedure, the healthcare personnel will put on sterile gloves to protect you from germs as well as having protection from your body fluids.

I do not like seeing food service personnel with long and/or artificial nails, chipped polish etc. these are bacterial boarding houses! Most food service workers are poorly trained and have limited understanding of what is entailed in germ transmission--and a great many of them just do not care.

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Re: Gloves & working with food

Post by VictoriaF » Wed Oct 30, 2013 3:35 pm

Achelois wrote:Hospital employees, for the most part, are wearing gloves to protect themselves from you and your body fluids. Occasionally, one will expose a fingertip if he or she is having trouble feeling a vein. In surgery, of course, or doing some sterile procedure, the healthcare personnel will put on sterile gloves to protect you from germs as well as having protection from your body fluids.

I do not like seeing food service personnel with long and/or artificial nails, chipped polish etc. these are bacterial boarding houses! Most food service workers are poorly trained and have limited understanding of what is entailed in germ transmission--and a great many of them just do not care.
If you compensate food service personnel at the same level as medical personnel, they will be more receptive to your requirements.

Victoria
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Re: Gloves & working with food

Post by Achelois » Wed Oct 30, 2013 3:45 pm

Well , perhaps, Victoria. When I was growing up, my dad taught us to do the best job we could because it was the right thing to do. If one agrees to do a job for and agreed-upon remuneration, one should do the best possible job.

I hear that excuse a lot--"you cannot expect anyone do do a good job or care about a job because they are only getting X amount of money".

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Re: Gloves & working with food

Post by Epsilon Delta » Wed Oct 30, 2013 3:46 pm

VictoriaF wrote: If you compensate food service personnel at the same level as medical personnel, they will be more receptive to your requirements.

Victoria
Amongst the hospital workers needed for infection control are janitors. These are often no better compensated than fast food workers. At this level workers do not need to fully understand the germ theory, they do need to understand and follow rules, and they do need supervision to teach, motivate, and if all else fails, enforce those rules.

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Re: Gloves & working with food

Post by LadyGeek » Wed Oct 30, 2013 4:28 pm

I removed a number of posts that were below the acceptable threshold for this forum (personal hygiene habits). This thread has run its course and is locked. See: Forum Policy
Note that this subforum has a much lower threshold for locking or removing posts than the financial and investing subforums. In general, controversial, offensive, pointless, divisive or mean-spirited posts or topics may be locked, edited or deleted (with or without notice) at the discretion of the moderating staff even if they do not otherwise violate forum policies.
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