Glove barriers to bacterial cross-contamination between hands to food

J Food Prot. 2001 Jun;64(6):845-9. doi: 10.4315/0362-028x-64.6.845.


Human hands are an important source of microbial contamination of foods. However, published data on the effectiveness of handwashing and glove use in a foodservice setting are limited. Bacterial transfer through foodservice quality gloves was quantified using nalidixic acid-resistant Enterobacter aerogenes (a nonpathogenic surrogate with attachment characteristics similar to Salmonella). Five transfer rates were determined: chicken to bare hand, chicken to hand through gloves, bare hand to lettuce, hand to lettuce through gloves (with low inoculum on hands), and hand to lettuce through gloves (with high inoculum on hands). At least 30 observations were made for each percent transfer rate using 30 individual volunteers. The logarithm of percent transfer data were then fit to distributions: chicken to bare hand, normal (0.71, 0.42); chicken to hand through gloves, gamma (5.91, 0.40, -5.00); bare hand to lettuce, logistic (1.16, 0.30); hand to lettuce through gloves (low inoculum), normal (0.35, 0.88); hand to lettuce through gloves (high inoculum), normal (-2.52, 0.61). A 0.01% transfer was observed from food to hands and from hands to food when subjects wore gloves and a 10% transfer was observed without a glove barrier. These results indicate that gloves are permeable to bacteria although transfer from hands to food through a glove barrier was less than without a glove barrier. Our results indicate that gloves may reduce both bacterial transfer from food to the hands of foodservice workers and in subsequent transfer from hands back to food.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Colony Count, Microbial
  • Enterobacter aerogenes / isolation & purification*
  • Enterobacter aerogenes / physiology
  • Food Contamination / prevention & control*
  • Food Handling / methods*
  • Food Microbiology
  • Gloves, Protective / microbiology*
  • Hand Disinfection
  • Humans