Latex Glove Allergies and the Food Industry

Recommendations for Use of Latex Gloves in the Workplace
  1. The National Institute for Occupational Health (NIOSH) recommends that food workers use non-latex gloves. A wide variety of alternatives exist including polyvinylchloride, neoprene, styrene or synthetic.
  2. If latex gloves are used, provide employees powder free, reduced protein gloves. Powdered gloves pose a greater risk than non-powdered gloves. Latex proteins bond to the powder causing more latex to reach the skin. In addition, particles can become airborne when gloves are donned by employees. The powder may be inhaled by an allergic individual possibly causing an adverse reaction.
  3. If employees are wearing latex gloves, recommend that they not use oil-based hand creams or lotions. These products can cause glove deterioration exacerbating the allergy.
  4. Employers should encourage employees to wash hands with a mild soap and dry thoroughly after removing latex gloves.
Information expressed above comes from:
  1. Beezhold D, Reschke J, Allen K, Kostyal D. Latex protein: A hidden food allergen. Allergy Asthma Proc 2000 Sep-Oct;21(5):301-8.
  2. Franklin W, Pandolfo J. Latex as a Food Allergen. Correspondence in the New England Journal of Medicine, Dec 9, 1999 Vol.341, No 24.
  3. Schwartz HJ. Latex: A potential hidden "food" allergen in fast food restaurants.
  4. NIOSH Alert: Preventing Allergic Reactions to Natural Rubber Latex in the Workplace. June 1997
  5. US HHS NIOSH Latex Allergy: A Prevention Guide

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